Environment: A useful solution in waste

Maggots are helping reduce food waste at Queanbeyan Hospital. Photo: Matthew Hull

Maggots are helping reduce food waste at Queanbeyan Hospital. Photo: Matthew Hull

Maggots, pigs and chickens are helping to reduce food waste at Queanbeyan Hospital.

Staff at the busy hospital came up with a creative solution to the issue.

Josie Grenfell, dietitian and Waste Committee member at Queanbeyan Hospital, helped find local solutions to manage hospital waste.

"I've got an interest in environmental sustainability," Ms Grenfell said.

"We started with increasing recycling and it went from there.

"Food waste in society and especially in healthcare is a big issue."

With the help of services staff, Queanbeyan Hospital started sending food waste to Goterra in October 2018.

Goterra is a company based in Fyshwick that specialises in feeding food and organic waste to maggots, that in turn are used to feed livestock such as pigs and chickens.

Queanbeyan is one of the only hospitals in NSW to use this method of food waste disposal.

Goterra collects the waste, stored in cornstarch compostable bags, directly from the hospital.

In six months, 1.4 tonnes of food waste avoided landfill and was recycled through Goterra, they estimate.

The waste created 26.4kg of food for livestock and prevented 1261.6kg of CO2 emissions.

Queanbeyan Hospital also donates unopened sealed ambient food to Oz Harvest.

"Bottles of water, mini jams, cereals and packets of tea are now rescued and donated to the vulnerable members of the community," Ms Grenfell said.

"Food waste is a large proportion of waste in general rubbish bin, especially in facilities with a food service system.

"I have a passion for environmental conservation, especially protecting the planet for my kids and future generations to enjoy, so it feels good to do something practical and make a difference."

Queanbeyan Hospital is a member of the Global Green Healthy Hospitals Network, under the HealthCare Without Harm movement.

A statement from Health Care Without Harm said it works to transform health care worldwide so it reduces its environmental footprint, becomes a community anchor for sustainability, and a leader in the global movement for environmental health and justice.

Its global programs include: medical waste, toxic materials, safer chemicals, green building and energy, healthy food, pharmaceuticals, green purchasing, climate and health, transportation, and water.

  • See noharm.org

Queanbeyan Hospital is part of the Southern NSW Local Health District (SNSWLHD).