Embracing Sustainability: The Hidden Power of Ice Vending Machines in the HoReCa Sector

It’s no surprise that the hotel, restaurant, and catering sector (HoReCa) collectively generates an awful lot of carbon emissions. And yet the sector has been slow to respond to environmental pressures. 

Studies indicate that the industry contributes to one percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. If that percentage doesn’t seem all that high, consider that it represents one one-hundredth of a total 36.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide, which is 860 million tons. The HoReCa sector will need to make major changes if that’s ever to be reduced. 

In addition to major food waste and energy issues, the HoReCa industry is also struggling to shake its strong penchant for plastic. Exacerbated by the pandemic when demands for takeaway food soared, single-use plastic takeaway containers and bags are still a common feature in most catering and restaurant settings. 

However, change could be on the horizon. Driven by consumer demands and rising regulatory measures, the HoReCa sector must face the music and improve its sustainability credentials or risk falling behind. 

The incentive isn’t just environmental, but could also be a smart business move. Forbes pointed out that there’s a correlation between sustainability initiatives and business profitability, revealing that customers will pay a premium for sustainable products and even switch to companies that placed sustainability initiatives front and center. 

It’s clear that there’s a huge imperative for change within the industry, and addressing HoReCa’s environmental footprint is now an urgent focus. That’s why the emergence of several sustainable technologies couldn’t have come at a better time. 

The Sustainability Edge 

Ice vending is one of the fastest-growing segments of the $4 billion ice retail market. And this growth will likely continue. Ice vending machines connect to the drinking water supply to generate ice and water products on-site, thus eliminating the environmental costs of transporting pre-made ice to the point of sale. This reduced environmental footprint makes ice vending machines a useful addition to the HoReCa industry.   

The average American buys four bags of ice each year, which normally adds to mounting levels of plastic waste that negatively impact the environment. Placing ice vending machines within HoReCa locations removes the need for extra packaging in an industry that generates thousands of tons of plastic waste annually. The machines also allow servers to safely serve ice directly to customers, enhancing hygiene standards. Rather than bartenders scooping melting ice from a bucket that’s been sitting out for a few hours, they can generate fresh ice for every drink and serve a perfectly cooled beverage.

Ice vending machines help HoReCa businesses reduce their Scope 3 emissions, which are those emissions that are contributed by suppliers and delivery services. Scope 3 emissions are unsustainable practices that are often hard to monitor. However, ice vending machines help remove numerous stages from the supply chain, effectively cutting out emissions linked to manufacturing and transportation.

Ice vending machines can also help HoReCa businesses boost their reputation and enhance business profitability later down the line. For instance, based on their increased sustainability efforts, hotels could consider applying for a Green Globe certification to enhance their standing among a rising number of sustainably-minded guests. Earning other certifications, such as becoming part of the Green Restaurant Association, can similarly open opportunities, connect you with like-minded businesses, and demonstrate your sustainable initiatives to consumers. 

Beyond Sustainable Success 

While ice vending machines can improve your business’ environmental footprint, it’s not just the planet that will benefit. From a practical standpoint, the economic benefit of not having to re-order bagged ice every week can save your team time and money. What's more, businesses won't see major fluctuations in spending depending on the seasons, as they can create ice products on demand. For instance, if you’re gearing up to sell cocktail pitchers for the  NFL season, you never have to worry again about ordering extra ice.

The technology that powers most of these machines can also drive consumer satisfaction. Most manufacturers design their ice vending machines to leverage smart technology, which can recycle the water that is used to chill the ice products. This means you can generate more ice while extending the lifespan of your ice maker. The convenience factor of streamlining server processes will likely lead to more happy customers, and as a result, more returning consumers. 

For HoReCa businesses, ice vending can be a small, but important step in the right direction. Reducing plastic waste and delivering an on-demand service that is kind to the planet is not just a testament to your environmental commitment but it’s also a smart business decision. Any opportunity to demonstrate innovation through innovative ice vending products while sharing a commitment to customer satisfaction can benefit wider business goals.