Reducing Food Waste

Reducing Food Waste

Reducing Food Waste

We have implemented food waste reduction and landfill diversion programs at all of our medical centers. The Nutrition Services Department continues to achieve waste reduction and diversion solutions on every level that is recommended by the EPA Food Waste Management Hierarchy. The following describes our system’s efforts at every level of the hierarchy:

1. Source Reduction

Food Recovery HierarchyOur nutrition services provider uses a comprehensive food management system that gives them the ability to track sales trends, product costs and usage to determine efficient purchasing and cooking projections. We also offer a reusable cup and reusable bag program and utilize reusable serviceware in our patient service areas. In addition, University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center has replaced its disposables with reusable serviceware in its cafeteria (implemented in 2012).

2. Feeding the Hungry

University Hospitals Case Medical Center has partnered with the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge to donate our cafeteria food surplus. The Hope Lodge is close in proximity to the campus cafeteria and provides housing for people going through cancer treatment.

3. Feeding Animals

We’ve obtained a feed registration from the Ohio Department of Agriculture to donate leftover raw produce to a local pig farmer, which is done regularly by UH Case Medical Center. Since the feed registration applies to all UH hospitals in Cuyahoga County, we hope to expand this program to some of our other medical centers.

4. Industrial Uses

In 2013, almost 22 tons of waste oil was recycled from our kitchens. Weekly oil filtration also extends the life of the equipment and reduces the amount of oil used. Once the oil has reached capacity, it is collected for use as biodiesel. At the same time, deep fryers were being phased out systemwide, so waste oil collection has decreased.

5. Composting

I am Sustainable, ClevelandIn 2012, we implemented a kitchen-scrap composting program at all of our medical center kitchens. Food waste is collected in bins and picked up by a local company, where it is turned into a nutrient-rich soil additive that can be returned to the local landscape. In the same year, UH Geauga Medical Center launched a full circle composting program that captures both kitchen scraps (preconsumer) and cafeteria scraps (postconsumer waste). Food waste from patient trays was composted as well.

In 2013 we aimed to expand our composting programs systemwide, yet mid-year our composting partner ran into operational issues and had to halt service for most of our medical centers. Our largest campus, UH Case Medical Center, was able to continue with its preconsumer composting program in its kitchens. In fact, UH Case Medical Center’s Wolfgang Puck Express was able to achieve zero waste in its kitchen and dining areas mid-2013. The remainder of the year was spent exploring alternative food waste composting vendors in Northeast Ohio. By the end of 2013, our system had received a proposal from a local transport company and long-standing, well-established nursery equipped to take our food waste volumes. This new program will be rolled out in 2014.

Systemwide composting in 2013: 155 tons

15 Environmental Excellence awards

UH received 15 Environmental Excellence awards from Practice Greenhealth, including the prestigious System for Change award, for our systemwide achievements in sustainability in 2013.