Sustainable Healthcare Case Study: Diverting unopened, shelf-stable food from waste to charity at the Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospitals Group

Tuesday 02 July 2024

The South Metropolitan Health Services (SMHS) delivers hospital and community-based public health services to nearly 670 000 people. As part of the Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospitals Group (FSFHG), the 783-bed Fiona Stanley Hospital is the major tertiary hospital in SMHS, offering comprehensive health care services in Western Australia.

The Problem:

Food waste across the FSFHG totals approximately 12 tonnes per month. The majority of this waste is diverted to an organics recycling stream, however, a large volume of unopened, shelf-stable food from patient food trays were being disposed of as waste, ending up in landfill. With more than half a million Australian households struggling to put food on the table on any given day, the FSFHG decided to implement a sustainability strategy to divert these unopened, shelf-stable food from waste to charity to feed people experiencing hardship in the community.


  • Reduce the volume of food waste going to organics waste
  • Divert unopened, non-perishable packaged food items to charity to feed people experiencing hardship in the community
  • Display leadership in sustainable healthcare practices

The Process:

The FSFHG identified that additional measures were needed in their food waste management strategy to divert food waste from landfill. Unopened items such as breakfast cereals, condiments, and fruit pots were commonly found being returned to hospital kitchens and, although these foods were suitable for the organics waste stream, FSFHG decided to make this food available to feed vulnerable groups in the local community.

  • The project began with an audit which found 1873 unopened single-served portions of shelf-stable items being returned to the kitchens at FSFHG in one day, equating to approximately $200,000 per year in combined food and waste removal costs.
  • In 2023, a small working group was formed to implement the strategy, which involved a collection process for the items identified as suitable for donation to charity.
  • Research conducted by Monash University and Eastern Health provided evidence that unopened foods collected from patient rooms was not a significant infection risk. A decision was made to not collect items from infection precaution rooms, to further reduce the infection risk of donating the food.
  • Partnerships were formed with Oz Harvest and PortCare, who provided collection tubs for the food items, and a collection schedule was developed.

Kitchen staff assisting in collecting unopened food items from patient meal trays.


Within eight weeks from the initial working group meeting, food rescue was successfully implemented at both the Fiona Stanley Hospital and the Fremantle Hospital. In the first 12 weeks, the project diverted approximately three tonnes of food from the food organics waste stream into the community to feed people in need. Through the Oz Harvest school breakfast clubs, children in need were also fed and significant social benefits were achieved by providing healthy and nutritious food, which otherwise would have been disposed of as waste, to vulnerable community groups.

Fremantle Hospital catering staff and PortCare celebrate the first collection of rescued food

This full case study is available to GGHH members via GGHH Connect.

Congratulations Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospitals Group! Thank you for your sustainable healthcare leadership!