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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Quantities and quantification methodologies of food waste in Swedish hospitals

Eriksson, Mattias; Malefors, Christopher; Bergström, Pauline; Eriksson, Emelie; Persson Osowski, Christine


To move towards a sustainable food system, we cannot continue to waste substantial amounts of the food produced. This is especially true for later stages in the food supply chain, where most sub-processes consume resources in vain when food is wasted. Hospitals are located at the end of the food supply chain and the sector has high levels of food waste. This study investigated food waste quantification practices in Swedish hospitals, examined whether a questionnaire is an appropriate methodology for such mapping, and compiled data for the sector in order to determine the amount of food waste and its composition. A questionnaire was sent to all 21 regional authorities, formerly known as county councils, responsible for hospitals in Sweden. The questionnaire responses were supplemented with food waste records from three regions that organize the catering in a total of 20 hospitals. The results showed that it is common practice in most hospitals to quantify food waste, with quantification focusing on lunch and dinner in relation to the number of guests served. It was also clear that waste quantification practices have been established for years, and in the majority of the hospitals studied. The data revealed that, in comparison with other sectors, food waste was still high, 111 g guest(-1) meal(-1), consisting of 42% plate waste, 36% serving waste, and 22% kitchen waste. However, there was great variation between hospitals, which, in combination with well-established, standardized waste quantification routines, meaning that this sector has strong potential to spread best practices and improve overall performance in reducing food waste generation.


hospitals; food waste; sustainable development goals; baseline; county council; benchmark; region; quantification; waste per portion

Published in

2020, Volume: 12, number: 8, article number: 3116