Wigan health chiefs pledge to reduce food waste

Tonnes of food was thrown away by the borough’s hospital trust last year, official statistics show.

Monday, 10th May 2021, 7:00 am

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust sent 20.45 tonnes of food for composting or to a bio-processing plant in 2019-20.

That works out at around 0.25g per patient admitted and cost the Trust around £1,440, the statistics from NHS Digital show.

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Statistics show how much food was thrown away by WWL

The statistics, which are part of the NHS’s annual infrastructure data collection, do not have in the total food which was put in a general waste bin.

It also does not distinguish between patient meals and food from staff or visitor canteens.

The national NHS digital figures show that across England hospital trusts sent some 6,228 tonnes of food waste for composting or anaerobic digestion last year.

That is the equivalent of around 75,000 average-sized British men.

While that sounds like a lot, the figure for 2019-20 is actually a significant reduction on the food waste total of 14,015 tonnes recorded in 2018-19.

The true national figure is also likely to be much higher as more than half of England’s 207 trusts said they disposed of no food in this way, suggesting large amounts are going in general rubbish.

Among the trusts that did send food for composting or eco-friendly breakdown WWL’s figure of just over 20 tonnes is a fair way beneath the average of 61 tonnes.

The worst offender in the country, the Royal Cornwalls Hospital Trust, racked up a massive 404 tonnes of food waste.

WWL’s per-person figure of 0.25kgs was also massively below the worst figure clocked up, which was an enormous 53kgs per admission at the Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber Foundation Trust.

Food redistribution charity FareShare said that millions of people in the UK are struggling to get enough to eat .

The charity said it was ready to take large-scale offers of surplus food from organisations such as hospital trusts and get it into the right hands.

Sustainable food charity FeedBack speculated that some trusts moving from in-house kitchens to services involving pre-plated frozen meals could have helped contribute to the drop in food waste compared to the previous year.

Others, though, argued that poor-quality, mass-produced, reheated meals in hospitals were a reason for waste on patients’ plates.

An independent review of hospital food in 2020 said the quality of meals must improve, with the NHS being called on to lead the way on public health and nutrition.

David Evans, director of estates and facilities at WWL, said: “The Trust’s Catering team work hard to provide high-quality meals and a choice for all of our patients, staff and members of the public at the same time as trying to minimise food waste wherever possible.

“All food waste generated on our hospital sites is sent for anaerobic digestion, which is then used to create renewable energy and nutrient rich fertiliser.

“The Trust continues to maintain a ‘Zero Domestic Waste to Landfill’ commitment.”

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