Preventing and reducing food waste has become a global priority. One-third of the food produced in the world – approximately 1.3 billion tons – is wasted every year. This has an important impact on the environment, economy, and society as a whole.
An ambitious target of a 50% reduction in food waste has been set by the United Nations in Sustainable Development Goal 12.3. The European Commission is working towards defining a methodology for EU Member States to prevent and reduce food waste in all sectors, from agriculture to retail and schools. However, the policy makers have so far forgotten the healthcare sector. In hospitals and other healthcare facilities, plate waste is actually higher than in other foodservice sectors, ranging from between 6% - 65%.
The healthcare sector has unique challenges compared to other food preparation and service operators: the need to create customised dietary options based on the patients’ condition, the patients appetite challenges, or on the unpredictable number of patients and visitors. There is also the problem of extended hours of service and different meal and snack times.
The combination of all these factors makes food waste reduction in hospitals a complex issue that be tackled. This will require technical expertise, careful execution, and the involvement of staff and patients. Despite these challenges, food waste reduction is possible in healthcare and it brings cost savings that hospitals can use in procuring more high-quality, healthy, and sustainable food.
HCWH Europe’s food waste webinar demonstrates how food waste has been reduced in healthcare facilities through national and hospital-centred policies, with examples from Ireland, the Gentofte Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark, and from a pan-European survey carried out by HCWH Europe.
This webinar aims to:
- Inform about the various challenges and opportunities to prevent and reduce food waste in healthcare;
- Explore how food waste prevention and reduction strategies can be successfully implemented in healthcare facilities;
- Inspire other hospitals and national agencies to start reducing food waste;
- Have a constructive debate with stimulating questions from the audience.
- Eileen O’Leary, Researcher, Clean Technology Center, Cork Institute of Technology, Ireland
- Sisse Hørup Larsen, Clinical Dietician Specialist, and Nina Johanne Spaabæk, Development Consultant, Gentofte Hospital, Denmark
- Paola Hernández Olivan, Food Project Officer, HCWH Europe, Belgium