This week, Rich and I were able to speak with Paul on our ‘Igniting Change’ podcast and as always, our minds were blown by the insights shared by our guest!
Paul is the Founder of Eumelia and they build technology for sustainable futures for hospitality and the food and beverage industry. Eumelia was started about a year ago, and they are currently teamed up with us to build an app that looks at the packaging within food and beverage and hospitality.
In hospitality and food and beverage there is still loads to be done for sustainability and Eumelia is facing the challenge head-on
(To hear the full episode, follow the links to listen on your preferred platform below:)
What inspired you to get into sustainability?
Originally, I had an idea how bad it was working for a big company and as a General Manager I had access to the information about wastage and it was something I was meant to control. But it’s at the point where it doesn’t matter how good of a GM you were, it’s almost impossible to control. There was no system in place, or accountability to figure out where the wastage came from and how to make it better. It was this endless battle trying to portion things correctly and minimise the waste.
There was fluctuation from good and bad weeks, but on the whole, there was no accurate system in place to stop the waste that wasn’t just a lot of head-scratching and trial and error. There would be Head Chef’s, Deputy Manager’s and Supervisor’s all trying to figure out where the waste was coming from but never really finding a solution.
Within hospitality, there is a high turnover of staff, part-time workers in and out, so we realised you needed something to help and control that when the manager wasn’t there the whole time. Our first product was essentially a dispenser that sat on top of the bottle and only allow you to pour what you put through the till and feedback through Bluetooth mesh 5.
This would allow you to feedback your stock every pour, every minute of every hour and give you accountability of who is pouring and where the wastage is coming from. With this stock system in place, you have “eyes” on what’s going on behind the bar in real-time.
There is a lot of room for waste and inconsistency behind the bar. With so many transactions happening at the same time, this technology not only ensures each drink doesn’t have an overage or underage but that the drink is made the exact same every single time with the quantities never varying despite who is making it.
It’s not about micromanaging and counting every last drop. In hospitality, contingencies crop up and you need to give a complimentary drink, that can still happen, but it’s about having the knowledge. Seeing pretty much exactly where the product is going and there’s no longer this guesswork at where the stock is going.
What was your eureka moment when you realised the hospitality industry needed to become more sustainable?
My first realisation was from back in my days working in the pub! If you’ve worked in one you know there’s always a few extra chips leftover. You have 1 or 2 as you walk past, or there’s a little bowl to grab from as you go. Which doesn’t sound like a big deal. But for that to be the norm, cooking that little bit extra, day in and day out for a year and the figures are eye-watering.
In one establishment alone you are looking at 80 kilos of potatoes. That’s 80 kilos of food that wasn’t necessary and if you work it out backwards of the land and resources required for that amount of potatoes it’s just grim to think about. That’s just one location, thinking about pubs across the UK, or globally that are generating that much unnecessary wastage just because they don’t quite see exactly what’s happening behind the bar or in the kitchen.
If we can figure out how to portion this correctly and continuously then we are going to get a better yield from the potatoes and our farming. Just looking at the figures and extrapolating our usage made it clear that this was a problem that we were contributing to.
I guess you can say I’m where I’m at now because I ate too many chips at the pub all those years ago!
What are some of the barriers consumers face with the intention-action gap?
This is something that varies from industry to industry, but I’d say the most common thread across all of them would be convenience. People don’t want to change their day to day habits. They want something that is familiar and easy, so changing that core behaviour is tricky.
Something else that feeds off of convenience is motivation. We are all very data-driven. If we can see the facts or the direct effect of our actions, then we are more motivated to change our behaviour. If I could see the exact journey and what it took to produce that H&M shirt, would I buy it? Or if I could track the clothes I dropped off at a charity shop to see how much they earned that charity, wouldn’t I be more inclined to properly donate more because I’m more invested in that circular loop?
If you can find those barriers and remove them to make the behaviour change easier, then we’ll get there. It’s just recognising those barriers and offering a solution is what’s tripping us up right now!
What advice would you give people to live more sustainably but don’t know where to start?
The most realistic first step to take is a small one. If you decided to 100% give up those daily coffee cups and single-use water bottles and opt for the reusable versions, that is a great start to living more sustainably.
And obviously, technology is absolutely helpful. Being savvy is a great start! There are apps to track your carbon footprint, or locating re-filling stations all at your fingertips so make sure you are using the most powerful weapon against the climate crisis.
A little bit is powerful and enables us all to have a massive impact.
How can technology play a role in helping us save our planet?
Most people have a phone in their hand that they are using daily so there is no reason we can’t build something into that usage that helps encourage sustainability. Showing people the data of how much usage, or what their planet positive action does but not giving them a solution is pointless. At this point, we can all see where we could do better, so technology can show us the hard facts, but also the solution so that people are able to do something about the information they are giving is so powerful!
Being able to gamify sustainability. We don’t want it to be doom and gloom and get apathetic, but what we want is to make it fun and enjoyable to become hooked on gamifying positive behaviours but it’s also having a massive impact on sustainability is just a win-win scenario. There are infinite opportunities for technology to help facilitate real change and I don’t doubt that’s where we are headed.
Another great episode for the books! We loved chatting with Paul and if you are keen to be a part of our podcast, please do shout us a holla.
You can listen to the episode in its entirety here: