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New Hospital Kitchen Addition “eats” Through Waste That Used To Be Hauled Away

Yale New Haven Hospital: This eco-friendly food disposal system quickly and safely decomposes virtually all organic food waste

The amount of resources on the planet is finite. Therefore, they must be used wisely by reducing the amount of materials used, making responsible purchases and reusing and recycling whenever possible. Yale-New Haven Hospital has taken an active stance in reducing waste and promoting recycling through its campus.

What is 67 inches long, 52 inches high, shiny stainless steel and can gobble up more than 50 pounds of discarded food every 30 minutes?

The newest addition to the hospital’s Food and Nutrition Services department: the biodigester in the East Pavilion food services kitchen. This eco-friendly food disposal system quickly and safely decomposes virtually all organic food waste including meats, fruits and vegetables, breads and dairy products.

When a formula of microorganisms is added to it, the biodigester breaks down the waste into a liquid which is then safely disposed down the drain, and ultimately returned to the ecosystem as water. The new machine “digests” an average of 900 pound so food a day, produces no odor and does not consume a lot of electricity.

The biodigester is part of the YNHH’s sustainability program which focuses on advancing human and environmental health.

The operator adds food waste to the chamber through a large hatch. The machine adds water and the food with the help of the microorganisms, beings breaking down immediately. The waste is flushed down the drain and off to water treatment facilities before it enters the ecosystem.

Prior to the biodigester, staff discarded leftover, uneaten or unused food into large garbage bins, which were wheeled outdoors, compacted in dumpsters and hauled away by a waste removal company.

“Using the biodigester saves the hospital money by greatly reducing the costs of hauling away and disposing of food waste,” explained Louise Donovan, associate director for operations, Food and Nutrition, who notes that the hospital expects to save about $11,000 in waste removal fees annually with the biodigester. “It also helps us work more efficiently, as staff time once spent discarding food waste can be used in other ways.”

In addition to returning water to the ecosystem, the environmentally friendly biodigester diverts landfill waste and cuts down on air pollution and truck traffic.

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