Did you know that food waste takes up 11% of total waste generated in Singapore? Find out how SKH adopts green practices to reduce food waste in the kitchen, one meal at a time.
Most of us hardly take notice of the scraps of food that we dispose into our garbage bins. But with a central hospital kitchen like SKH serving up at least three meals to hundreds of patients per day, just imagine the inevitable amount of leftovers that comes along with these meals!
To remove food waste effectively and in a more environmentally-friendly way, the Food Services Department managing SKH’s central kitchen has adopted green practices for enhanced waste management.
Turning food waste into water
Two food waste digesters were installed in the central kitchen which break down food waste into water, effectively reducing the waste to be sent for incineration.
Ms Chia Pei Ling, Assistant Manager, Food Services, SKH, shares, “The trimmings of vegetables and fruits during food preparation are the biggest contributors to food waste in the kitchen, as well as the leftovers from patients’ meals.”
She explains how the food waste digesters work: “Our staff will first dispose of food waste directly into a food grinder, which breaks it down into smaller fragments which are then pumped into the food digester to be processed into greywater – waste water that can be discarded into the waste pipe.”
This eliminates the need for labour and container storage in handling food waste. It is also more environmentally friendly as it reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills or incinerators, especially in land-scarce Singapore, and generates a smaller carbon footprint. Overall hygiene and cleanliness is improved as well, reducing odour and pest issues, and saving costs through proper management of raw materials.
SKH also practises other environmentally friendly initiatives as part of its food waste management process.“Food waste management at SKH starts right from the planning of raw materials and ingredients and includes purchasing and delivery arrangements. Food stocks are pre-planned and ordered according to requirement to avoid overstocking,” shares Ms Chia.
“We also practise effective food preparation using the meal order report generated from our eMOS (electronic meal ordering system) to minimise food waste due to over-production. In addition, food waste from excessive production of meals, besides expired food, and food spoilage due to prolonged or improper storage can be easily avoided.”
The kitchen workflow in SKH has also been designed to minimise food waste to not only make sure food supply for the patients is uninterrupted at all mealtimes, but also helps minimise wastage. In the storage area, staff make sure that the stock is rotated, with the earlier deliveries placed ahead of those delivered later.
Products are arranged such that those items expiring first are used first. The temperature-controlled storage areas (chiller and freezer) also have their internal temperatures checked regularly to prevent any potential spoilage of food.
Segregation of waste
Food and non-food waste have to be properly segregated, with kitchen staff at SKH trained to segregate the waste into different bins. As trays returned from the wards are also mixed with various types of rubbish, this segregation of waste has to be done in order to prevent non-food waste from choking up the grinder and digester.
Preventing food waste is crucial to reduce the carbon footprint and subsequently the effect on the environment, which includes global warming.
We can all contribute in our little way, for a greener, better future for everyone. Remember, it starts with you!
Reduce food waste at home!
HERE ARE SOME SUGGESTIONS:
• Buy only what is needed. Taking a ‘shelfie’ – a photo of your fridge and pantry – will help.
• Check the use-by dates of fresh food. Products that are expiring first should be kept in front.
• Plan ahead. Think of what you’re going to cook and how you’ll use the leftovers in your recipes.
• Get to know your grocers. They will have plenty of advice on how to use up leftover vegetables.
• Trim and use blemished fruits and vegetables for cooking instead of just discarding them.
• Redistribute or donate excess food to the local food bank or someone in need in your vicinity.
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