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Hotel ICON Turns Food Waste to Water, to be used to Irrigate Its Vertical Gardens


New Year’s resolutions are generally made on 1 January and somehow go by the wayside before Chinese New Year, but eco-pioneer Hotel ICON has just announced its first groundbreaking environmental initiative for 2018 and is not looking back.

Looking at Food Waste Statistics: Our Unique Ways to Reduce Food Waste


Eco-friendly travel goes much farther beyond the initial thought of camping or a trip outdoors. Eco-friendly travel includes so many smaller yet still “green” activities that are all a part of what it means to be an eco-friendly traveler. The major constituent of municipal solid waste which is often overlooked is food waste. Did you know that up to 40 % of the food produced worldwide is thrown away? According to food waste statistics published by the Environmental Protection Department, Hong Kong generates approximately 3,648 tonnes of food waste each day. In Hong Kong, the amount of food waste accounts for 36% of the municipal solid waste. Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) comprises solid waste from households, commercial and industrial sources. This excludes construction waste, chemical waste, clinical waste and other special waste. MSW is disposed of at landfills. Food waste comprises of waste produced during food production, processing, wholesale, retail and preparation, as well as after meal leftovers and expired foods. It is highly degradable which can easily cause odour and hygiene problems. Hotel ICON has implemented unique measures to help clean up Hong Kong and the world.


A trendsetter in the travel industry with a strong dedication to environmental practices, Hotel ICON will be the first in Asia to implement ORCA (Organic Refuse Conversion Alternative) technology that turns food waste into water. The water created using this unique process will be used to irrigate part of the hotel’s stunning vertical garden, designed by renowned French botanist Patrick Blanc.


Comprised of 8,603 plants and 71 species, the indoor vertical garden is the largest in Asia and provides a source of fresh oxygen for guests and diners in the city’s busy metropolis. Blanc is currently working with the hotel’s engineering team to work with water and nutrients from the output of the ORCA machine.

ORCA’s sustainable technology is housed in a stainless-steel container, with a door on the top which employees open to throw food waste inside. Within the container, ORCA's proprietary, natural microorganism solution works with water and recycled plastic biochips to quickly break down the waste. Through a process called “aerobic digestion”, the ORCA technology constantly churns all this material, adding oxygen to accelerate the time it takes to transform the food waste into water.


ORCA technology simply mimics a natural digestion process. It works using the same principles that our body and other living organisms are governed by. ORCA creates the perfect thermophilic biological environment for the microorganisms to digest food waste into a liquid.


ORCA is a hyperlocal, distributed alternative to the traditional truck and bin collection system. ORCA delivers significant savings because they eliminate trucking from the process while significantly reducing the harmful emissions that come with truck traffic.




With the implementation of ORCA, Hotel ICON will divert 285 tonnes of food waste per year from landfills, recycle 135,000 litres of water per year, and reduce garbage truck diesel fuel usage and its CO2 emissions. ORCA helps Hotel ICON avoid emitting both methane and carbon dioxide by recycling on-site. Hotel ICON is proud to share our unique food waste solutions and looks forward to further implementing sustainable practices and other ways to reduce food waste into our hotel infrastructure.


Take a lesson from Hotel ICON…it’s time to turn over a new leaf! As both a hotel guest and in your daily life, there are many ways you can reduce food waste and practice eco-friendly travel. We put together a few tips to get you started with this.


1. Limit your food waste at the source.

Take only what you need. When you are exploring the many dining options around the city, try to order only what you know you will be able to consume. Finishing your plate is a simple way to reduce food waste and save unnecessary costs.



2. Grab a takeaway box for unfinished meals.

If you do end up ordering extra food, be sure to grab a takeaway box from the restaurant to save your meal for later. If you know you are not going to eat your leftovers later on, think about giving the meal to someone you may see that is in need.


3. Donate excess food to others.

Hotel ICON delivers all surplus food from the hotel’s restaurants to local families in need, in cooperation with local charity Food Angels. When you return home from your stay, think about how you can donate to a local food pantry or charity in need.


4. Carry around your Hotel ICON reusable shopping bag in Hong Kong.

When you arrive for your stay at Hotel ICON, we will provide you with a reusable shopping bag. While exploring Hong Kong, travel with your reusable shopping bag to reduce waste from non-recyclable shopping bags from stores. Stores are required to charge a small fee for shopping bags, so you can also limit wasted costs with your own bags.


5. Limit your use of plastic bottles.

It can be difficult to refill a water bottle around Hong Kong, but Hotel ICON has done its best to make pure filtered drinking water available to you in the hotel. Each guest room is equipped with a filtered water tap for your convenience.


6. Take public transportation or electric vehicles.

To limit unnecessary emissions, take public transportation or inquire about Hotel ICON’s fleet of electric vehicles. The MTR in Hong Kong is fast, efficient, and able to get you almost anywhere you need to go in the city. If you would like a private ride, ask about Hotel ICON’s Tesla chauffeur service available to guests.


Learn more about ORCA: