Amid growing pressure for the healthcare sector to decarbonize, a new guide has been released offering best practices. And it advises preventing food waste as one of the most effective ways hospital foodservice can help organizations reduce their carbon footprint.
It is estimated that the global healthcare sector is responsible for up to 4.6 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. In the United States, the sector contributes an estimated 8.5 percent of the nation’s GHG emissions.
The International Group of Seven (or G7) announced in May their intent “to build environmentally sustainable and climate-neutral health systems at the latest by 2050 and to support other countries in this effort.” Meanwhile, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the UK National Health System are collaborating on decarbonization plans. The HHS has also recruited more than 100 US-based healthcare organizations to pledge their intent to reduce their GHG emissions.
With all of that as a backdrop, the HHS’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recently released the guide “Reducing Healthcare Carbon Emissions, A Primer on Measures and Actions for Healthcare Organizations to Mitigate Climate Change.”
The guide offers advice for several healthcare departments. Its guidance for the foodservice operation is to adopt food waste prevention.
“Initiatives to prevent food waste,” the report states, “are effective strategies to reduce GHG emission associated within this domain.”
The guide goes on to offer specific interventions, which includes food waste tracking.
This advice aligns with guidance from other other global authorities. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the UK-based research organization WRAP have both published science-based recommendations on the best solution to address food waste, with food waste prevention (also known as “source reduction”) as the most favorable solution.
The research organization Project Drawdown identified food waste prevention as the most actionable initiative to keep the climate below a 2o centigrade increase, the point at which the most devastating impacts of climate change would be felt.
The United Nations affiliated group Champion’s 12.3 has offered a three-step framework for food waste prevention, with tracking as its centerpiece.
Finally, the new guidance aligns with earlier direction provided by the Health Care Climate Council, which also advised organizations to adopt food waste prevention as a primary strategy.
To learn more about the environmental benefits of food waste prevention, check out the Leanpath e-book Why Food Waste Prevention Should be Your Top Sustainability Initiative.
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