Workshop | Food waste in healthcare: European policy and national initiatives

Preventing and reducing food waste has become a global priority; one third of food produced in the world – approximately 1.3 billion tons – is wasted every year. This misuse of valuable resources has a significant impact on the environment, economy, health, and society as a whole.

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 calls for an ambitious target to halve global food waste per capita by 2030. The European Institutions are debating the revision of the Waste Framework Directive, in which the European Parliament has proposed to include a food waste definition, food waste targets, and a food waste hierarchy. The European Commission is also working towards developing a methodology for EU Member States to prevent and reduce food waste in various sectors, from retail to consumption. In this political context, not much attention has been given to the healthcare sector, even though in hospitals and other healthcare facilities, food waste is actually higher than in other food service sectors. 

The healthcare sector faces unique challenges compared to other food preparation services e.g. food waste in hospitals may result from the need to create customised dietary options based on the patients’ conditions, patients’ appetite challenges, or from the unpredictable number of patients and visitors. There is also the problem of extended hours of service and different snack and meal times. These factors combined make food waste reduction in hospitals a complex issue that needs to be tackled. It requires technical expertise, careful execution, and the involvement of staff and patients. Despite these challenges, food waste reduction in healthcare is possible and can offer cost savings that hospitals can use in procuring higher-quality, healthy, and sustainable food.


The agenda and the workshop report are available

This workshop, organised by HCWH Europe and kindly hosted by MEP Davor Škrlec (Greens), provides an overview of the on-going policy developments at both the EU and international levels to prevent and reduce food waste. Member State initiatives on preventing and reducing food waste in the healthcare sector from Ireland, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom will also be explored, and best practices on how hospitals and other healthcare facilities have implemented food waste prevention and reduction strategies are showcased.


The featured presentations are also available:

 The work of the EC Platform on Food Losses and Waste

Bartosz ZAMBRZYCKI, European Commission, Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety


 The Irish National Strategy for reducing food waste in hospitals

Eileen O’LEARY, Cork Institute of Technology, Ireland


 A methodology for measuring and reducing food waste in Dutch care homes

Joost SNELS, Senior Scientist, Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands


 Preventing food waste in UK hospitals and health systems – the WRAP Toolkit

Hugh JONES, Programme Area Manager on Food Waste Prevention, The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), UK