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frame: “how zero-waste hospitality is becoming super circular”


The zero-waste hospitality movement is not only beginning to make waves across continents but also across spaces. What started as a circular concept for restaurants to minimize food waste, is spilling over from the kitchen into the guest environment. We’ve covered how the zero-waste mindset has made upcycled furnishings, sustainable materials and salvaged elements commonplace in restaurants.…From waste to hospitality amenity While the theatrics of this concept makes for great television, Bali-based hospitality company Potato Head has adopted circularity in a holistic, programmatic way. The company is dedicated to a comprehensive zero-waste philosophy that covers not just food and beverages but also architecture, interiors and design. In 2017, it began separating its own garbage on-site. Organic waste compost was supplied to a pig farm. All valuable inorganic elements were returned to a third-party reseller. A Waste Lab was established to find new uses for materials like LDPE, PVC and Styrofoam that have no commercial value. Its goal is to reduce the amount of waste that can’t be recycled to zero by 2024; the rate is currently at three per cent, down from 51 per cent when the initiative began. ‘The last remnants, such as diapers, cigarette butts, hand gloves, and white tissues, have always presented us with a dilemma,’ says Ade Herkarisma, who oversees the business’s architecture and development, directs product research and development and provides sustainability advice.

Styrofoam currently can’t be recycled. Potato Head’s Waste Lab developed hotel amenities based on a mixture of the material, HDPE and oyster shells.

It has since transformed previously purposeless waste into products like a soap dispenser – which has been selected for the RoPlastic Prize 2023, aimed at recognizing the innovative reuse of waste materials during Milan Design Week 2023. ‘We attempted to use PVC as a bonding agent for road paving in one of our early tests,’ says Herkarisma. ‘We melted the plastic, combined it with sand and used that mixture to form paving blocks. We then broke down Styrofoam into an almost mushy texture and combined it with shredded plastic or crushed seashells. We used that material to create a variety of hotel amenities.’ Potato Head’s holistic circularity is still in development, with plans for a zero-waste restaurant in Singapore, set to open in 2024. OMA is in charge of the architecture, while Spanish designer Andreu Carulla has been tasked with creating furniture out of garbage.

Follow-the-waste tour

These initiatives are being fed back to visitors at Potato Head’s Waste Lab, which is even being used for guest-facing educational experiences. Tourists are invited on a beach walk to collect waste and deliver it to the company’s Waste Lab. They can also embark on a ‘follow-the-waste tour’. ‘We demonstrate to them our back of house, including the way we manage waste up until the production line,’ Herkarisma explains. ‘They are given a waste workshop to learn more about how they can recycle, allowing them to apply some of this knowledge when they get back home to change, ever so little, the way they live.’ The future of hospitality will not only be about hotels and restaurants reducing waste and using biodegradable materials, nor about gastronomic entrepreneurs adopting circular practices by turning waste into useful products. Going fully circular will require guests to also become active participants in environmental efforts.

Published on 02/02/2024 by Potato Head