Food Waste for Thought - Benjamin Lephilibert from LightBlue Environmental Consulting
Updated: Oct 22, 2021
In this episode, we spoke to Benjamin Lephilibert, founder of Lightblue Environmental Consulting. Their key mission is reducing food waste in the hospitality sector using technological solutions and deep capability building.
LightBlue reconciles sustainability with business excellence, capitalizing on their unique 8 years of practical expertise in the field of Food Waste Prevention, and 12 years in sustainability performance. They highlight the business case of preventing food waste, building a performance-based strategy integrating key departments and leveraging new metrics that impact your bottom line.
They guide, train and accompany organizations in integrating circular business models to move towards zero food waste to landfill and low carbon operations.
Also, LightBlue Environmental Consulting recently has been awarded the United Nations: Best Small Business (among 2,000 applicants!!). How cool is that?
Where to find LightBlue Environmental Consulting:
Beginnings of LightBlue Environmental Consulting
Before starting LightBlue, Benjamin was in charged of the regional environmental certification program for the Novotel hotels in Asia. This was back in 2008 when there was very little interest paid to such issues.
Eventually, Benjamin made his way to implementing the Green Jobs Certification for 45 hotels in 9 countries! He was also part of the International Labor Organization (ILO) as a consultant funded by the government of Japan on greening the hotel industry in Asia.
Over time, Benjamin realised that he was paying more and more attention to food waste and that was where it all started...
Benchmarking Food Waste
One of the recurring issue that came up when tackling food waste was not just the food waste itself but more on the fact that there isn't a clear guideline as to what constitutes as too much food waste.
A story that Benjamin shared was when he told the hotels that they were "wasting one kilo of food waste per cover every morning at your restaurant”, and the employee looked at his director in confusion and asked “is that a lot?”.
This drives home the importance of needing to align the industry with benchmarks in order to empower everyone with industry segments so they have the insights to know how much improvement is needed.
Benjamin is also working on gamification features to make the data experience more engaging for users!
The COVID Pivot
All these momentum was great for Benjamin and they were finally able to crack the Singapore market with a implementation deal with one of the big hotels here.
However, as many Singaporeans are aware of, the Circuit Breaker eventually happened which stalled a lot of business opportunities for many people.
In about two weeks time, the equivalent of 40% of their yearly income was canceled in contract and 95% of all their existing customers were shutting down!
An amazing moment, which many founders can relate, is when Benjamin called upon his team for an "all hands on deck" as they needed to pivot ASAP since they only has 2 months worth of cash flow before they go bankrupt.
They decided to do a deep dive into what is within their control. It became clear that they needed to focus on what they can execute remotely, which is capacity building, and re-structuring all of their knowledge accumulated over the past seven years and build some technical training.
They sprinted to find content, activities, and guests speakers to get their sessions running and eventually launched their first batch of training.
Most founders are no stranger to the digital pivot and the pandemic really forced them into that direction and they had to change their customers almost entirely compared to the previous year.
An amazing tidbit: they ended up with 50% more sales than pre-COVID!
Are you digital ready?
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00:27 What is Interseed?
00:52 Interseed updates! 50 users sign-ups! Look out for September!
02:08 What is LightBlue Environmental Consulting
03:45 Knocking on doors to find opportunities
04:35 Focusing on food waste over time in hotels and the beginnings of LightBlue Environmental Consulting
06:50 Starting with basic methodologies of tracking
08:55 Releasing their digital food waste monitoring app (Food Intel Tech) with cloud-based analytics and becoming a comprehensive food waste monitor system
12:25 Benefits of the food waste monitoring system (reducing 20% food waste) especially through a mindset change
14:00 Their 8 days baseline and audit
15:30 Motivation for people to start adopting the monitoring system
17:50 Span of operations: capacity building, technical workshops, technology (Food Intel Tech), consulting, pledge on food waste certification program, and repurposing excess food waste.
22:10 Thoughts about external frameworks and focusing on practicality
23:15 Practical challenges of auditing (Covid-19, adoption, lack of understanding and motivation, inaccurate reporting, communication, technical etc)
29:35 Motivating the team and looking out for passion and reliability
30:50 Embracing diversity of solutions such as adding benchmarking, and gamification to the app
32:45 Values of the company
34:25 Working with the team during the pandemic and pivoting to digital services, working with universities, training consultants, etc.
41:50 Ways Benjamin recharges
44:10 Benjamin's recommendations
46:19 Ways to make a positive impact
49:00 Jobs opportunities
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