At TriStar Summit Medical Center, new ways of going green are making an impact across the facility. In addition to sponsoring and participating in a cleanup at a local greenway, TriStar Summit is constantly working to make their facility more sustainable. We went behind the scenes with Executive Chef Mark Wrigley and his colleagues Scott and Lori to learn more about how TriStar Summit is going green with their composting initiative.
The composting project began in May 2019, and the process begins in the kitchen, where between 500 and 1,000 pounds of materials are composted each week. Unused or uneaten food goes straight from the dish room, where it joins any leftover salad prep items, expired food or other food waste, such as peels, tops and cores. Non-food items like cardboard and milk containers are also able to be composted, so these materials are added to the composting bins as well, although the team must be sure that no Styrofoam or non-compostable containers are thrown into the bins.
Once the bins are full, they are wheeled outside to the back of the building, where they are left on a concrete pad that was specially built to house the full and empty bins. There are a total of eight bins that are rotated depending on whether they are full or empty. The bins are picked up twice weekly by a third-party company, and the compost is used for clays and enriched soils.
Implementing the composting program was more than simply adding new bins, and making sure the right materials were composted, it required a change in culture. As the team at TriStar Summit became more mindful of what they were throwing away, they started to think about how they used other materials throughout the facility, and how they could be better stewards of their resources. Now, they’ve added more opportunities for patients, visitors and staff to go green.
Two examples of how they have gone green include replacing water fountains with stations where patients, families and visitors can refill water bottles and save plastic, and the cafeteria offers to-go cardboard containers that can be composted or recycled, and can even be packed for visitors to take with them when they leave the facility. With the composting and green initiative, TriStar Summit is able to reduce food waste costs while working to protect the planet.
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