Volume 11 (2016) Issue 1 Pages 1-7
As the volume of food waste globally exceeds 30% of the world’s total food supply annually, the reduction of food waste is a current priority for policy makers and researchers worldwide. Food waste is especially problematic in the tourism industry, where excessive consumption and solid waste leads to long-term negative social and environmental impacts to local communities. As food waste is 40% of the total solid waste generated by resorts, the reduction of food waste is an important component of decreasing costs in the low profit-margin tourism industry. Thus, industry and non-governmental organizations encourage social and environmentally sustainable practices, primarily though green certification programs, but such efforts have not yet resulted in significant impacts. Issues with program design and administration, lack of consumer demand, cost of program membership, and lack of program evaluative data have been cited as rational in the literature. However, the success of green certification programs in other industries, increasing consumer willingness to pay premiums for products and services using sustainable practices, and the potential for certification programs to reduce food waste shows the potential of such programs in tourism to be successful in the future. Hence, this paper provides a framework for green certification program design based upon MINDSPACE concepts from behavioral economics, where decision-making models seek to change the environment or context in which people make decisions. These contextual changes, or “nudges”, lead to improved decision making, and hence, can be used to encourage firm and consumer environmental and social responsibility. Program design and certified firm specific policies which address management, employee and consumer decision making using Mindspace behavioral cues will increase the probability of future success for green certification programs in tourism.