Waste not

Waste Not Veggie

The numbers are in on a new waste-to-compost program at Emory. In 2010, three hospitals—Emory University Hospital (EUH), EUH Midtown, and Wesley Woods Geriatric Hospital—diverted 123,190 pounds of food waste from landfills and garbage disposals. That includes preconsumer waste (scraps generated in food preparation) and postconsumer waste (food left overs after being served to a patient).

The green effort did not come without its challenges, says Lynne Ometer, director of food and nutrition services for Emory Healthcare. At Midtown, for example, the kitchens are two floors above the loading dock. Ometer had to develop a system for transporting the 30-gallon composting containers to a location where they could be collected by Greenco Environmental, an organic recycling company that processes the waste into compost material to improve soil and provide nutrients for plant growth. And composting at EUH had to come to a halt in the hot summer months when the composting bins, which are picked up every other day, attracted too many flies.

Still Ometer is pleased with the success of the hospitals’ sustainability efforts. Kitchen staff were receptive to learning how to sort the food waste—even though it would have be easier to put it down the garbage disposal, she says.

And building on the initial success, Emory Healthcare is continuing its green efforts with the introduction of compostable take-out containers in the hospitals and a planned expansion of the program to Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital.

As Ometer says, “It’s the right thing to do.” —Rhonda Mullen

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