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How are supermarkets tackling food waste?

Tesco food waste

Tesco says less than 1% of food is wasted

Every day there is a story in the news about waste — from food waste to plastics — which has led Theresa May to pledge a huge reduction in plastic usage by 2042.

Iceland is one supermarket chain that is already preparing to make the appropriate changes to get rid of plastic from its branded products — with an aim of doing so before 2023 after 80% of its customers said they would support the change.

But where do other supermarkets stand on the issue of food waste?

Disposing of food waste can be expensive, and if research from the Food Standards Agency is anything to go by, Britain produces seven million tonnes of food and drink annually — which costs £12.5 billion.

Tesco’s approach

Tesco is one of the biggest supermarkets in the UK and has approached this problem in the best possible way. With 6,553 stores serving 50 million shoppers each week, less than 1% of food is wasted, which removes 46,000 tonnes of waste from circulation.

The FoodCloud app has been created that allows supermarkets to advertise surplus food to charities in the local area. This is something that is currently functioning for UK Tesco stores, and is also being trialled across its Asian branches — ultimately, the aim is to reduce any wasted food and give it to those in need. Through this initiative, Tesco has helped provide six million meals to over 3,500 charities.

Tesco also prides itself on the fact that no food from a Tesco store has entered a landfill since 2009 — and there are other ways that businesses can achieve this, too. Any baked food that goes unused is transformed into animal feed for livestock. Oils that are left over are converted into bio-diesels and when there are no alternatives, energy is generated by anaerobic digestion and incineration.

With Tesco having a huge presence across Europe, it has tested these methods in the UK, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. 400 of them are able to donate food to foodbanks within the local area and have currently donated 14.5 million meals since 2013. By 2020, Tesco has an aim to donate from all of its stores within Europe.

Not only is Tesco doing all of the above, the supermarket came to an agreement with 24 of its largest suppliers to adopt a Sustainable Development Goal to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030. Sometimes, produce doesn’t look its conventional state — this has lead this supermarket to create a ‘Perfectly Imperfect’ range to give customers great products at a discounted price.

Co-op Food’s direction

The Co-Operative Food is Britain’s fifth largest food retailer and wants to take a stand on food waste in the UK — and is starting with its 2,500 stores. One of the greatest achievements made by this supermarket was that, in September 2015, it sent 50 tonnes of food to FareShare (the company that provides the FoodCloud app) which was 10 times more than what it gave in September 2014. This enabled charitable organisations to provide those in need with over 120,000 meals — allowing Co-Op Food to stick to its ‘no waste in landfills’ rule.

With aims to reduce its own waste, the Co-Op has stated that it is going to sell its food up to a month after its best-before date in attempt to tackle the crisis. These out-of-date products will be sold for just 10p, and will include tinned goods, pastas and food sealed in packets. However, this does not include items that have a ‘Use by’ date to hold up safety measures — especially with meat and dairy products.

Thinking forward, the Co-Op said that, from this method of food waste reduction, it should be able to save over 50,000 items annually from being incorrectly disposed of.

With the Co-Op Food and Tesco taking the lead in terms of food waste, and Iceland with its plastic waste scheme; we could see a much safer and green planet, if more grocery stores were to follow suit. This article was brought to you by Reconomy, which offers a skips for hire service.

This article appears under the terms of the DB Direct service

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