Dishing up carbon reduction – catering team installs on-site composter

A bio waste processor has been installed at Royal Brompton Hospital to turn food waste into compost. The compost will be used in the hospital’s green areas and be made available for staff and locals to take away. 

Able to reduce the volume of food waste by 80% in up to 24 hours, the bio waste machine will reduce Royal Brompton’s carbon footprint by taking away the need to process any of its food waste off-site.

Operating sustainably is a priority for catering service manager, Nuno Matias, and his team. Not only is the quality of food highly regarded by staff and patients, they have won awards for their commitment to sustainable catering. In 2023 they scooped Public Sector’s Hospital Catering Award and in 2023 achieved the Soil Association’s Silver Food for Life, which was renewed this year.

Nuno credits his team’s passion for the leaps they’ve taken to create a more sustainable catering offer. He says: “We’re all very open to innovative ideas and improving processes. Installing a bio waste machine is one more way to help us reduce our overall carbon emissions. I’m excited about the prospect of producing compost too. We have small areas of green space here at Royal Brompton as well as gardens at St Thomas and Harefield – we even produce honey at Harefield Hospital! Realising a vision of ‘field to fork’ at our hospitals isn’t far out of reach!”

Turning food waste into compost is one of a several initiatives to reduce the hospital’s catering carbon footprint. With careful menu planning and attention to good quality meals, the team receives consistently high satisfaction levels among consumers and reduced food waste by 40% in the last 18 months. Presently, food waste is around 2,000kgs per month (about the weight of a large car), which, until now, has been diverted from landfill using an external contractor.

In 2020, Royal Brompton and Harefield’s catering services put a stop to single-use plastics, four years before the nationwide ban. Food is served with compostable cutlery and crockery. There is also a discount available if staff and patients bring their own reusable containers and cups. 

Further, Nuno and the team have introduced more seasonal and vegan/vegetarian dishes, and cut down on the use of ingredients with a heavy carbon footprint, like beef and lamb, by 30%.