3What to do About Food Waste
Measuring waste is the best place to start
The first step to successfully reduce food waste is to begin measuring and monitoring food waste on a regular basis.
Monitoring the quantity of food waste generated in your facility, and comparing this with other facilities, will allow you to assess how the food provision system is performing, in terms of waste generation.
Measuring food waste
The easiest way to monitor food waste is to extract information from your waste disposal bills. Most bills provide the weight of food waste bins collected. If not, there will be information on the number of bin lifts and, while not as accurate as weights, these can also be used.
It is important to remember that the weight or number of food waste bins will only provide information on the waste that is in them i.e. food waste that is correctly segregated. The programme has found that it is still very common for significant volumes of food waste to be disposed of to drain and in residual waste bins. In order to get accurate data on total food waste generation, you need to look further than just the bills. The best method to gather detailed food waste data is in-house measurement /weighing.
Monitoring food waste on-site will allow you to identify waste trends. This information can be made more meaningful by comparing it to hospital activity (such as bed days) to create a benchmark.
Food Waste Benchmark
Benchmarking is an excellent method to track food waste over time, or to compare one facility to others. Benchmarking in the healthcare sector is typically based on the number of patient bed days (or inpatient bed days) provided. By dividing the total food waste generated in your facility per month (or per annum) by the number of patient bed days for that month (or year), you will generate a waste benchmark for your facility.
Green Healthcare has produced food waste generation benchmarks based on data from Irish healthcare facilities. The following profile shows the average level of waste generated in those facilities involved in the programme.
Compare the food waste monitoring results to these benchmark values to get an indication of how well your facility is performing.