Westin Abu Dhabi turns food waste to fertiliser

Abu Dhabi golf resort & spa creates fertiliser from waste in 10 hours

The Korean machine can handle 600kg of waste in one cycle.
The Korean machine can handle 600kg of waste in one cycle.

The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort and Spa is piloting a machine that turns food waste into a nutritious fertiliser in a one-time cycle of 10 hours.

The Korean-developed machine, which is now in operation, reduces the food waste from the hotel to a dry, high grade fertiliser which is approximately one-third of its original weight. A sample of the fertiliser was sent to the Ministry of Environment & Water located in Al Ain and the results came back indicating that it was a very nutrient rich fertiliser comprised of 93% organic matter.

This material is then used across the resort to feed bedding plants, grass areas, trees, herbs and vegetable gardens.

Staff are trained to separate all food waste from general waste resulting in the collection of approximately 225kg of food waste from the six restaurants and staff cafeteria across the hotel. Per month, the waste is reduced down to (depending on occupancy) approximately 1.5tons of fertilizer, approximately 30% of the original weight.

This is a significant reduction in weight, and the carbon footprint associated with transportation of waste materials off site, and a cost of thousands of dirhams in waste management fees as the waste is now processed on site. The Westin Abu Dhabi is now reducing the current outgoing waste by 1.1m3 per day.

An organic soil conditioning agent was added to the end product balancing the sodium levels which then make this a commercially high grade fertiliser ideal for plant growth. The hotel is in the process of building a herb garden which will also use the fertiliser. The garden will grow red chilies, onion, mint, coriander, basil, lemon grass, and soya.

Running at full capacity the machine can take 600kg of food waste in one cycle. The 10-hour cycle will then reduce this waste product into approximately 175kg of fertiliser by rendering the moisture using heat. The machine does not use any chemicals or degrading agents during the cycle, only heat is applied.

This is currently the only fertiliser machine of this scale and quality in operation in Abu Dhabi, and the only machine in any Starwood EAME property.

Rainer Wiegand, area director of operational innovation said: "Starwood is committed to sustainability. By 2020, Starwood Hotels & Resorts aim to reduce energy consumption by 30% and water consumption by 20% across the 1100+ luxury hotels worldwide. We have clear goals to achieve, and these innovations are allowing us to become greener in our operations and contribute back to our communities."

There are hopes to roll this project out to the other six Starwood properties in Abu Dhabi turning this into an area initiative. The fertiliser that is produced will be used to fertilise the garden areas of all the properties and long term possibly supplied to the farms in the UAE to grow local produce which will then in turn be fed back into the properties.

The man who pioneered this project, Sebastien Weyer, director of engineering at The Westin Abu Dhabi, said: "The Westin Brand has a passion for environmental practice and this is the next step for the hotel in our drive towards sustainability. Since we have been in operation we strive to incorporate environmentally friendly initiatives into our work wherever possible and this machine is testament to our efforts.

"This machine not only turns waste into a useful product but it could hopefully provide a platform to collaborate with our sister properties in Abu Dhabi and also local farmers in the UAE."

Sebastien Weyer's interview with fmME will be featured in its May issue.

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