Coffee grounds: from hospital to gardens

The flower and vegetable gardens of many associates of Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield have been getting a few jolts of caffeine—figuratively anyway--for about three years now.

A coffee grounds recycling program, which started in 2010, has been saving an estimated 49 pounds of coffee grounds per day from being dumped in a landfill. Instead of putting the grounds in the garbage, the hospital offers the used grounds to associates.

It’s all part of the hospital’s ongoing “Going Green” initiative. The grounds, from the hospital’s cafeteria and catering service, are available to employees on a first come-first serve basis. In 2013 alone, nearly 18,000 pounds of coffee grounds were recycled.

The hospital’s Food & Nutrition Services provides the grounds in re-used one-gallon plastic containers which are sturdy, can be re-used again, and theirs to keep. Each container holds about seven pounds. The coffee filters, which are biodegradable and good for the compost pile, are included with the grounds.  The hospital goes through about 177 containers per month, or six per day.

And that’s just a start of the hospital’s Food & Nutrition Services “green” efforts. Also in 2010, they began donating food scraps to a local pig farmer. The farmer gets about 3,200 pounds per month, or 38,400 pounds a year. The scraps, which the farmer picks up a few times a week, are from the salad bar and trimmings, with no meat or items that have been ‘contaminated’ from being on a food tray.

In addition, usable leftover food is donated to two local charities, one of which provides daily suppers for those in need, and the other that stocks a food pantry. Since implementing those programs, in 2005 and 2009 respectively, about 250 pounds per week, or 13,033 pounds per year are not wasted.

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