Hotels in Norway and Sweden took part last summer in an interesting experiment that produced even more interesting results: Smaller plates provided to guests at the hotels’ traditional breakfast buffets led to a 20 percent reduction in the amount of food that was thrown away, which in turn leads to lower CO2 emissions and lower costs.
Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported that 52 hotels in the Nordic Choice chain took part in the experiment conducted by GreeNudge, an environmental foundation founded by hotel owner Petter Stordalen and his wife Dr Gunhild Stordalen. Seven of the hotels reduced plate size at the buffet from around 28 centimeters to 21, while six others put up small signs at the buffet with “friendly” information about food waste. All 52 hotels logged the amounts of their food waste daily.
Results showed that both the smaller plates and the signs led to the 20 percent reductions in waste, but Steffen Kallbekken of research agency Cicero has most faith in the results from the smaller plates. “Your stomach gets full before your eyes do,” Kallbekken told DN. “Even nutrition experts take too much food when they’re given big plates.”
The hotels were keen to see whether the GreeNudge experiment would prod guests into making additional trips to the buffet instead of leaving uneaten food on their plates. One of Stordalen’s Clarion hotels in Stockholm found that guests didn’t eat less, but they wasted less.
The friendly reminders and smaller plates “proved to be economically beneficial to the hotels and good for the environment,” Beate Nossum in GreeNudge told DN. “And if the guests hadn’t been satisfied, it wouldn’t have worked.”