Skip to main content


  • Published on May 9, 2023


Soneva is a luxury resort operator with a total of 400 rooms across 3 resorts. It is built on the foundation that a business must exist for a greater purpose than just shareholder returns.


Located on remote islands there is a restricted choice of food products available locally and waste management infrastructure is severely limited. As a result, common practice is to import food and dispose of food waste into the ocean, both of which lead to a high carbon footprint.


Soneva views waste as a resource and aims to achieve zero waste to landfill by 2025 and compost all organic food waste; to increase herb and vegetable production to reduce food imports; and to improve guest satisfaction.


To deliver these goals, Soneva are operating a Waste-to-Wealth programme to reduce, transform and manage waste in each of their resorts.

Actions taken

The programme looked to raise awareness on the value of food, address the challenges of improper waste handling, increase locally produced food products and provide employees and guest with fresher and healthier meals.


Effective implementation of the programme required the engagement of the teams at different stages of the food journey. General managers were brought on board to support, apply the correct emphasis, and to ensure appropriate resources were made available to the programme. Where required, specialist consultants were also brought in to provide guidance and to improve the effectiveness of the programme.


The teams involved included chefs, the Eco Centro team (responsible for solid waste handling) and the Garden team:

·         Chefs were encouraged to have an open mind towards reducing food waste. This included utilising what the garden produced based on seasonality and climate and adapting their menus accordingly. They also worked with the Garden team to identify the produce they would like grown and to develop a more plant-based menu.

·          Plant-based restaurants such as Shades of Green, So Wild, and Colours of the Garden were established inside the vegetable gardens. This gives guests a unique experience to see how the vegetables are grown and enjoy healthy and sustainable meals with the freshest ingredients.

·         The Eco Centro team were trained on permaculture principles so that as much as possible is recycled. Up to 70% of the solid waste is organic (food and garden waste) and composting plays an integral part of the solution in preventing food waste being disposed to the ocean.

·         Training was also delivered to the Organic Gardening team on permaculture principles to increase garden production, reduce reliance on imported food and utilise compost and other organic waste materials such as cardboard and converting wood waste into biochar.

Impacts achieved

The programme delivered the following impacts:


·         Food waste reduced by 50% compared against a 2019 baseline

·         Plant-based meals have been increased to 50% of the menu offering.

·         100% of food waste recycled by composting. 4,200 tonnes since 2009

·         Using a conversion factor of -0.12kg CO2 per kg food waste composted CO2 emissions have reduced by 500 tonnes since 2009. For all waste the calculation is a reduction of 1,220 tonnes.

·         Recycling of all waste increased from 27% (2009) to 90% (2021)

·         Vegetable production increased from $16,000 a year (2011) to $200,000 (2021).

·         Waste-to-Wealth has generated $3 million in total

·         Development of a suite of Tropical Gardening Course tutorials

Lessons learned

The achievements of the programme are a result of the determination, dedication and hard work by senior management and all employees. Success can also be attributed to Waste-to-Wealth being identified as a profit centre, raising the profile of waste handling and its unique challenges in an island environment. This made it easier to demonstrate the business case for further investment in equipment that help waste handling. Waste should be viewed as a resource. Organic food and garden waste is important to manage as it often comprises 50% or more of solid waste. When composted it provides a valuable resource that can be used to produce food.


A valuable lesson learned was the need to focus more on reducing food waste as a first measure. A subsidiary measure was the opportunity to generate value from the compost. If the focus is placed on composting, there is a risk of becoming complacent with generating food waste. Therefore, it is necessary to recognise that throwing away food unnecessarily is unacceptable and that prevention is a far more sustainable option. This provided renewed focus and food waste was reduced by 50%, which in turn made the composting process much more manageable.


Food waste audits highlighted the areas to focus on. Prevention measures included ensuring spoilage is minimal, appropriate adjustment of portion sizes, presenting less food at buffets and preparing more food for buffets only when required. The guests are very supportive and highly appreciative of all the efforts on waste recycling and food waste composting process. Constant monitoring is required to ensure high efficiency and guest satisfaction is maintained.


Next steps

The programme and commitment to sustainability is constantly evolving and is supported by the additional revenue generated. Beef has been removed from the menus because of its high environmental impact. Dairy, white flour and white sugar content has been reduced by over 80% to offer even healthier menu choices with a further focus on offering more plant-based alternatives.


“First measure your waste. Then focus on why it is arising and how you can reduce it in the first place, before you recycle/compost as much as possible. Look then at ways to generate value from the waste, which often makes in more interesting.”

Arnfinn Oines, Social & Environmental Conscience


The case study has been provided by Soneva in support of the Global Roadmap for Food Waste Reduction in the Tourism Sector demonstrating the value of taking action to prevent food waste.

External source(s)


You might also be Interested in