Cook N, Goodwin D, Porter J, Collins J. Food and food-related waste management strategies in hospital food services: A systematic review. Nutrition & Dietetics. 2022;1‐27. doi:10.1111/1747-0080.12768COOKET AL.27
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Foodservice dietitians, sustainability dietitians, foodservice manager and workers
- What are hospital foodservices around the world currently doing to manage their food waste more sustainably?
- What are the financial, environmental and staffing outcomes associated with these activities?
- And what were the barriers and enablers to implementing these strategies?
Bottom line for nutrition practice:
- Divert surplus edible food and inedible food waste from landfill by using the most appropriate management strategy available.
- Aim – This review explored peer-reviewed and grey literature to describe the types and characteristics of food or food-related waste management strategies used in hospital food service settings; their financial, environmental and staffing outcomes; and the barriers and enablers associated with their implementation.
- Methods – Six electronic databases, 17 Google Advanced searches, and 19 targeted websites were searched for peer-reviewed and grey literature. Literature reporting the financial, environmental, or staffing outcomes of food or food-related waste management strategies that reused, recovered energy from, or recycled waste instead of sending it to landfill were eligible. Document screening and review were completed in duplicate, and included peer-reviewed literature were assessed for quality using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool. Data were synthesised narratively.
- Results – Four peer-reviewed and 81 grey literature records reported 85 strategies. When grouped from most to least favourable according to the food recovery hierarchy they managed waste by: donating surplus food (n = 21); feeding animals (n = 2); industrial use (n = 11); composting (n = 34) and other (n = 17). These approaches had the capacity to reduce waste hauling fees (n = 14), reduce staff handling of waste (n = 3), and decrease the amount of waste sent to landfill (n = 85). Barriers included contamination of waste streams, while enablers included leadership and time-neutral changes.
- Conclusion – This review summarises the waste management strategies used by hospitals worldwide that divert food and food-related waste from landfill, their outcomes, and position in the food recovery hierarchy to enable hospital food services to implement appropriate practice and policy changes to decrease their environmental footprint.
Details of results:
- 85 examples of hospital foodservices were found to be diverting their food waste from landfill more sustainably.
- When grouped from most to least favourable according to the food recovery hierarchy they managed waste by: donating surplus food (n = 21); feeding animals (n = 2); industrial use (n = 11); composting (n = 34) and other (n = 17).
- The location of these strategies diverting waste were in hospital foodservices (n = 41), cafeteria (n = 7), CPK (n = 2), catering unit (n = 1) or combination of these settings (n = 18).
- Financial savings ranged from AUD $400-50,000 from waste disposal, equipment changes and labour use whereas costs ranged from AUD $1200-260,500 from food waste collection and installing procured equipment.
- Landfill savings occurred in every case but notably the highest examples were annually: 18,1444 kgs being donated, 200 tons composted and 360 digested.
- Other environmental outcomes included reduced carbon emissions, water savings, energy creation and less transport.
- Staffing outcomes were less waste handling and less time cleaning, however also involved giving staff more responsibility to separate, transport waste and operate equipment.
- The major reported barriers were contamination, times demands, equipment problems, stakeholder coordination and staff resistance, whereas enablers were leadership, no increase in time, easy equipment use, data and a return on investments.
Of additional interest:
Collection of research on food waste measurement by this group on Google Scholar
Conflict of interest/ Funding:
Prof. Judi Porter is Editor-in-Chief of Nutrition & Dietetics. She was excluded from the peer-review process and all decision making regarding this article. This manuscript has been managed throughout the review process by the Journal’s Editor. The Journal operates a blinded peer review process and the peer reviewers for this manuscript were unaware of the authors of the manuscript. This process prevents authors who also hold an editorial role to influence the editorial decisions made. All authors are in agreement with the manuscript and declare that the content has not been published elsewhere. Other authors declare no conflicts of interest. NC received a departmental scholarship for his Ph.D. from Monash University’s Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food, and a King and Amy O’Malley Trust Scholarship during this study.
External relevant links:
Mr. Nathan Cook, Nathan.firstname.lastname@example.org
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