MONKLANDS IS leading the way regarding food waste handling.
It is the first hospital in the UK to install a Meiko Disperator GTS food waste handling system.
Monklands is a district general hospital with a 24-hour accident and emergency department and 521 inpatient beds. King started looking for alternatives to the hospitals macerator system two years ago, following notice of legislation which effectively makes putting food waste down the drains taboo (see Zero Waste below).
Green bins are used to collect waste, with between 300 and 400 litres collected daily. Staff at ward level are relied on to ensure cutlery is not mixed with food waste. In any case, the GTS unit features a magnetic base to capture wayward spoons etc.
Food waste is scrapped onto the easy-clean surface of the GTS system, which is situated at the entry into a Meiko utensil washing system.
The GTS grinds the food into a paste and then transports it via sealed pipework into the nearby vacuum waste tank.
With any new system there is an education process while staff and management learn how to get the best out of it. For example, King has found stodgy foods may need extra water to loosen them up and ease them through the system. The staff have been trained to reserve left-over beverages for this purpose, instead of adding extra water.
Collected weekly, the waste is recycled into biogas for generating electricity, using anaerobic digestion, at a plant in Cumbernauld.
There are a lot of waste handling systems out there, says Peter King. The GTS System ticked a lot of boxes including savings on water and electricity, reduced carbon footprint and a rebate from the Water Board because we are no longer putting food waste down the drains. We also get duty of care paperwork from the waste processor.
But we are a hospital and we have to watch what we do with our food waste. We did look at alternatives but chose the Meiko system because it is hygienic, fully sealed and includes the tank housing, which has its own heating, lighting and air pollution control.
The Waste (Scotland) Regulations requires all businesses to separate paper and card, plastic, metal and glass for recycling by January 2014. Businesses that produce more than 5kg of food waste per week also need to separate this for collection.
Zero Waste Scotland is also supporting collaborative approaches to recycling. The Glasgow Restaurant Association, for example, is planning to bring its 84 members together to recycle food waste at reduced cost.
WATER USAGE COMPARISON
The GTS system can process 27 litres of food waste per minute and it uses 1.33 litres of water per minute on average.
A traditional waste disposal unit can process 300-450 kgs/hour and uses 18-36 litres of water per minute!