Boosting its environmentally friendly practices at the start of this month, Mid Coast Hospital began a composting program that reduces the amount of garbage disposed of into the waste stream, while supplying nutrient rich soil for gardening and landscaping.
“As part of our commitment to the health and well being of the community, we strive to set a positive example by implementing practices that care for our environment,” said Molly Gardner, linen and waste management aide, in a prepared statement. “Being responsible for the waste we produce is beneficial to our patients, staff, and the community as a whole.”
In effort to reduce waste, the hospital’s Food and Nutrition Services team has been monitoring food production and usage for more than two years. As part of this initiative, the kitchen staff has learned new food preparation techniques, uses state-of the art software to track ordering, weighs food waste, and tracks excess food amounts. These efforts directly contribute to the team’s positive outlook on the new composting program. Staff comments included, “we are already doing it anyway,” and “it’s just about putting it in a different place.”
Composting bins have been placed alongside recycling and garbage cans throughout the hospital kitchen and in the Café. For removal of the food waste, the hospital has partnered with We Compost It!, a Portland based company whose mission is to reduce waste and renew local soil. Food waste collected from Mid Coast will be composted into rich fertile soil, one yard of which will be donated back to the hospital for use in the Healing Garden and grounds in the spring.
“It’s clear that the team at Mid Coast is invested in reducing waste and caring for the environment,” said Brett Richardson, owner and general manager of We Compost it!, in a prepared statement. “They already have the infrastructure and processes in place that have made this a very easy transition.
With Mid Coast Hospital leading the way, we plan to expand the benefits of composting with new partners throughout the surrounding area.”
Together with its existing recycling efforts, the hospital anticipates that composting will decrease the amount of waste disposed of by a ton per week, ultimately leading to cost savings. Current recycling efforts have been in place since 2006 when the hospital started its single-stream recycling program. In 2012, the hospital became the first in Maine to recycle “blue wrap,” the blue sterile wrap used to prevent contamination of medical supplies and surgical instruments.