How golf clubs are finding sustainable solutions to food waste

27 Apr 2022

How golf clubs are finding sustainable solutions to food waste

As clubs around the world are stepping forward in a climate-conscious and sustainability-focused future, the efforts don’t end on the 18th green. 

Much like a round of golf that is finished off with a cold beverage or a freshly made sandwich in the restaurant, golf facilities taking climate action also give thought to what goes on within the clubhouse as they do outside it. 

Modern clubhouses can incorporate pro shops, community hubs, training centres, and, of course, restaurants. Serving food often results in wasting food, and an incredible one-third of all food produced globally goes to waste. But it doesn’t have to.

Within the OnCourse programme, you’ll find ideas around how to minimize food waste and recycle what is wasted. This includes careful menu planning and flexible portion sizes, which can ensure less is left on the plate, while advice on composting food waste, recycling cooking oil and donating surpluses to local groups can also be found. 

So what could your club do to reduce, reuse and stop food waste? 

Turn it into organic fertilizer

Just because food isn’t eaten doesn’t mean it isn’t useful. Having a plan in place to repurpose organic waste can not only reduce the amount going to landfill, but also lessen the need to import the resources that food waste can be used for, like fertilizers. 

Broken Sound Golf Club have found a way to do exactly that. Green waste disposal cost the United States club around $70,000 annually, so staff set up a mobile digester which can turn waste into compost for topsoil. 

It means the club have been able to save $12,000 per year in fertilizer costs on top of the money saved from waste disposal.

Meanwhile, Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore installed two waste digesters which allow staff to grind down food and horticultural waste to reuse as fertiliser on the golf course. In doing so, the club have cut their monthly waste by 30%.

Find uses for it away from the course

It’s worth considering what other ways food and organic waste can be useful, especially when alternatives to landfill can be found.

GEO Certified Al Mouj in Oman found a creative use for Camel’s Foot Creeper, a dense and fast-growing evergreen plant that grows around the course. Instead of disposing of this green waste, the club teamed up with a local farmer who can use the cuttings as food for his camels

It’s a deal that benefits both parties; it can be difficult to cultivate food sources for camels, so the farmer collects the waste free of charge and eliminates the need for landfill collection.

Another successful example is the Dubai Desert Classic, which teamed up with Green Eco Technologies to manage waste at the DP World Tour event in January 2022.

In doing so, a total of 1,350kg of food and organic waste was repurposed over the course of the tournament, with over 500kg sent away to be used in agriculture. In all, organic waste was reduced by around 64%.

Use fuels made from food waste

While it’s true that not every club is in a position to switch to plant-based fuels, using food waste as a way to power course machinery isn’t just a utopian pipe dream.

In fact, staff at GEO Certified Hirsala Golf Club in Finland successfully changed all of the diesel and heating oil that’s used in their fleet to a diesel that’s made from 100% food waste

Hirsala have been able to reduce the carbon footprint of their fleet by 90% on average thanks to the fuels, which are a Finnish innovation made by Neste My. It represents an investment into an industry that could yet have a profound impact on both renewable energy and food waste.

Only use compostable containers

It’s only right to consider not just the food but also the packaging it comes in. In many cases, wasted food packaging can be as damaging to the environment as the food itself.

That’s why takeaway containers, tea and coffee cups and sandwich boxes at GEO Certified Gleneagles are all made from plants. The products use renewable, low-carbon and recycled materials and are designed to be as compostable as the food they contain. 

It’s a similar story for GEO Certified Grange Golf Club in Ireland. Their policy that all takeaway packaging must be made from fully compostable materials allows them to compost their waste on-site, which is used on the club’s landscaping projects.

You’ll find countless other examples of clubs finding sustainable solutions to the issue of food waste on the Sustainable Golf Highlights Hub

Join the conversation

Sign up for the sustainable golf newsletter
Point of Impact