Scrap-eating machine is saving Bath's Royal United Hospital thousands of pounds
A new way of getting rid of food scraps from meals is saving money at the Royal United Hospital.
A machine which costs £4,656 a year to lease is saving seven times that much by turning food waste into liquid.
Food waste was previously collected from the hospital's wards and restaurants after mealtimes and taken to the kitchens, where it would either go into black bags and be sent to landfill or put in one of seven macerators – large waste disposal machines.
These used substantial amounts of water – a cubic metre a day each – and meant a lot of food ending up in the sewerage system, with the potential to block pipes.
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Now, the RUH has installed a single biodigester, which is fed with leftovers from patient meals and food waste from the Lansdown restaurant and Atrium café.
The machine works by constantly turning over food until bacteria breaks it down organically, turning the waste into a water-soluble liquid which can be safely flushed down a waste water pipe.
The liquid contains a large amount of aerobic bacteria, which is also beneficial at the sewage treatment plant by helping to break down harmful micro-organisms.
Environment and sustainability manager Luke Champion said: "With 2,000 meals a day being served up at the RUH it's inevitable that there will be a some food which simply doesn't get eaten and getting rid of it in an eco-friendly way has previously been difficult for us to do.
"Now we able to break down food waste on site in a much more environmentally- friendly way."
The biodigester will generate annual estimated savings of £3,000 on electricity consumption, £7,000 on reduced landfill waste charges, and £25,000 on water usage.