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Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe 1 Rue de la Pépinière, 1000 Brussels, Belgium

Let’s act together for sustainable healthcare!

On Tuesday, December 4, 2018, members of the HCWH Europe team visited the Hospital Centre (CH) of Niort to discuss the MECAHF project – a project developed to devise and implement a model of circular economy of food, analysing the production of food waste in order to generate savings as well as examining the procurement process to move towards local or organic products. Additional topics, such as key considerations in the fight against food waste and recent French legislation, were also on the agenda.

The day began in the staff canteen, where a representative from the Martens society was presenting their activities for preventing food waste, which includes publicly monitoring the potential food waste on plates before consumption. CH Niort is the first hospital participating in Martens’ project, where consumers have to pass through an airport-style detector that indicates if an individual has exceeded the recommended number of portions.

This public demonstration allows employees to think about their habits and to stimulate new ideas and solutions on the theme of food waste. This technology is a thought-provoking way of communicating the problem of food waste and seems to be working very well as an awareness-raising tool.

Following this presentation in the canteen, representatives of the different hospital departments joined the meeting for an introduction to both the MECAHF project and Health Care Without Harm Europe, by Bernard Jourdain and Paola Hernández, respectively. Attendees were also shown a video of the first waste characterisation at CH Niort, which was carried out in collaboration with Compost’âge and CPIE.

A total of 388kg of waste was divided into categories during the waste characterisation at CH Niort:

  • 35% – household waste
  • 30% – recyclable
  • 35% – bio-waste

Another measurement of food waste took place on December 6 in the staff canteen. In 2019, six other departments or wards will be selected to sort and assess food waste from patients.

Didier Girard, a former engineer at the Hospital Center of Le Mans then gave a presentation on the upcoming French legislation, which is aimed at balancing commercial relations in the agricultural sector and healthy and sustainable food by:

  • Paying a fair price to producers
  • Strengthening the safety, and the environmental and nutritional quality of produce
  • Promoting healthy, safe, and sustainable diets

Mr. Girard’s presentation [in French]

Within this last objective, some concrete actions for fighting food waste and supporting food aid are proposed:

  • Actors in the catering sector will be required to inform their consumers if they are following national guidelines for nutritional quality (Article 29).
  • As for food waste, the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) will submit a report to Parliament by January 1, 2022 on the management of food waste through mass catering and mass retailing (article 66).

As part of the new legislation, all public kitchens will also be obliged to separate bio-waste and sort bread waste separately (CH Niort already compost their bread). Furthermore, public institutions will be required to dispose of homemade sauces and soups separately because their fat content may pose difficulties in some waste-treatment processes. Finally, the new law also states that food donations will be mandatory for public catering and food industries (Article 88).

The MECAHF project demonstrates that CH Niort are ahead of this law, which also requires public catering to source 50% local or protected products i.e. Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) – the law also states that 20% of these products must be organic.

Other good practices in the management of food waste in France were also highlighted, such as Hospital Center of La Rochelle, Montpellier, Cochin (in Paris), and Pitié Salpêtrière (also in Paris). All of these hospitals have been invited to present these good practices at future meetings and workshops.

The MECAHF project will continue at the Hospital of Niort until 2020. To keep up to date with the project, please sign up for our newsletter here or contact us here to find out more or to register your interest in joining future MECAHF meetings and events.