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Reducing food waste to increase sustainability in tourism

Case study organisation: Viking Line

Viking Line is a company that provides passenger and cargo carrier services using the vessels Gabriella, Viking Cinderella, Viking Glory, Viking Grace and Viking XPRS. It serves on routes Turku – Mariehamn (Åland Islands) – Stockholm (Sweden), Helsinki – Mariehamn – Stockholm, and Helsinki Tallinn (Estonia). The company transports over 6 million passengers, over 100 000 cargo units, and over 700 000 cars each year on its routes. So, efforts to try to reduce food waste could not be better targeted. The described case study, a pilot project, took place on the vessel M/S Mariella. The ship no longer operates under Viking Line as it was sold to Corsica Ferries in 2021. It has a new name M/S Mega Regina. Nevertheless, Viking Line continues to take measures on its ships to be an increasingly sustainable company. They are planning a similar project for M/S Gabriella. In any case, Viking Line already utilises some of the best practices on its fleet. The pilot project was performed in co-operation with Winnow.

Description of the Case study

Viking Line has long taken different measures to protect the environment. The number of people travelling on its ships and eating in its restaurants provided a favourable setting to try to reduce food waste. Needless to say, that most of the food is served in buffets and that is precisely where most of the waste is produced. This effort to seriously reduce food waste in the form of a pilot project proved to be successful. It is definitely an act of responsibility and one further step toward sustainability on seas.

The measures taken on M/S Mariella

The majority of the meals served were prepared in the central kitchen onboard. During the project, the waste bins in the kitchen were equipped with scales to measure the food wasted. A computer software helped to categorize, weigh, and record the waste. The main reason to enable the reduction was, however, the increased efficiency of kitchen procedures. The staff paid more attention to the amounts prepared. In addition, the presentation and serving size of the dishes was rethought in order to reduce the plate waste. A good example of this comes from the buffet restaurant where they started to make ready-made portions of the main courses as people tend to take more than they can eat. Another way of saving food (and money) was to use, for example, the left-over boiled potatoes for different kinds of delicious side dishes for the dinner. Something one also does at home.

One of the most effective measures was actually to put a sign on the buffet table telling exactly how much food was wasted the day before. It got people thinking!

All these measures taken did not compromise the quality, freshness, nor availability of food, quite the opposite.

Although the case study comes from a large-scale tourism operation, there are lessons to be learned for all hospitality entrepreneurs. There are already several tools to track and analyse food waste: web-based tools, mobile apps, and smart scale systems. They can offer you a great support to implement different food waste measurements.

Making savings while increasing sustainability!

Food waste is a real issue for enterprises in hospitality industry. Kitchens can waste as much as 20% of the total food purchased. The outcome of the Mariella pilot project reduced the food waste by 40%. During a period of four months only, the estimated reduction of food waste was 27 tonnes. The amount of food saved equalled to about 70 000 meals. Naturally, the scale is different compared to a small tourism business but it shows how one can at the same time protect the environment and make savings for oneself. A real win-win situation.

Additional resources


Winnow Solutions Ltd. Sustainable commercial food waste solutions.

World Tourism Organisation. 2022. Online Training Series on Sustainable Food in Tourism: Waste Management.

Internet sites

Viking Line. Pilot project on Viking Line’s Mariella cut the food waste with 40 percent.

High Speed Training. 2016. 17 ways to reduce food waste in your restaurant.