Food Waste needs constant improvement now!

How supermarkets in Doncaster combat the environmental impacts and social injustice arising from our food system.

Until fairly recently, supermarkets sent their entire food surplus into landfill. There was  little consideration of the environmental and social implications. Fortunately for us, most supermarkets have reviewed their waste policies. They have also implemented changes to reduce the amount of food waste produced. So what are individual supermarkets actually doing about waste? Here’s a list of supermarkets and waste strategies.

Tesco and food waste Good Food Doncaster investigates

Tesco and food waste Good Food Doncaster investigates

Tesco and Food Waste

Tesco has recently committed to tackling food waste in all of its UK stores. This has the aim of ensuring any food considered fit for human consumption is redirected from landfill. It is given to community organisations and local charities to support their activities. Considering the sheer number and scale of Tesco supermarkets in this country, this is quite a big commitment. So how are they going to achieve this at the store level?

  1. Working in partnership with Fareshare Tesco donate their end of day produce to local charities and community organisations. These can range from children’s after school adventure playgrounds, to lunch clubs, which offer a free service to the local community.
  2. Ensuring that no waste goes to landfill (this has been in place since 2009). Any produce that they are unable to donate is converted into animal feed. They even convert their chicken fat and cooking oils in to biodiesel!
  3. As a last resort, anything that can’t be disposed of in these ways is converted into energy using anaerobic digestion (AD) or incineration.

Bearing in mind that Tesco’s was once one of the worst supermarkets for declaring their levels of food waste, they are now leading the field in the fight against food waste. In fact., they were one of the first supermarkets to publish independently assured food waste data for their operations. This is a good move.

Asda and food waste Good Food Doncaster investigates

Asda and food waste Good Food Doncaster investigates

Asda’s Food waste initiatives

Though it took a bit longer for them to jump on the bandwagon, Asda has its own commitments to reducing its levels of food waste.

  • Asda has been working with Fareshare since 2013. They redistribute any unwanted food they receive from suppliers. This food has either been over ordered, incorrectly ordered or is unmarketable. In the past, this was returned to the supplier. They would have no choice but to bin it. Fortunately, they have since started to donate this surplus food to support charities and community projects through Fareshare.
  • As odd as it sounds, Asda has its own specially trained ‘dates team’ which oversee the review of product dates. They also assess how well things are selling in each store. This information can then be used to accurately forecast stores stock orders and reduce the amount of unsold food. In addition, Asda has removed the best before dates on some of its long-life produce e.g. onions and apples.
  • Asda has also started to market its own wonky veg range. This further reduces the amount of food waste at the production level.
Sainsbury and food waste Good Food Doncaster investigates

Sainsbury and food waste Good Food Doncaster investigates

Sainsbury’s tackle what they waste

Up until recently, Sainsbury’s had their own ‘save more, waste less’ campaign. Here they invested in ways to help reduce waste at the household level. I wonder what else we can do ourselves to streamline our approach to food waste?

  • The supermarket piloted a scheme in Derbyshire, in which they trialled 20 separate food waste projects to see which approach was most effective in reducing food waste.
  • In the same scheme, Sainsbury’s funded 30 community fridges for local residents to use to store and share any perishable produce that would otherwise go to waste.
  • Sainsbury’s were also the first UK retailer to remove multi buy deals, in order to encourage people to only buy what they need.

Unfortunately, this scheme was dropped after the first year due to the pilot failing to reach the estimated 50% food waste reduction target. Sainsbury’s is now directing its efforts into a ‘live well for less’ campaign, let’s hope that this will still involve efforts to reduce food waste!

The Coop and food waste Good Food Doncaster investigates

The Coop and food waste Good Food Doncaster investigates

The Co-op Food adopts a store specific policy

The Co-op’s food waste policy is the same from store to store; however, donations of its surplus food tend to be store specific. In Doncaster many of the Co-op stores…

  • Donate their food to local charities and community organisations, like ECO Edlington and the Real Junk Food Project.
  • Collaborate with Fareshare to redistribute surplus food from its depots to local organisations and charities.
  • Follow a ‘still fresh’ policy, in which they reduce the price of fresh produce to stop it becoming food waste.
  • At present, the company is undertaking a full review of the shelf-life of its products, exploring alternative packaging and alternative distribution systems.
Morrisons and food waste Good Food Doncaster investigates

Morrisons and food waste Good Food Doncaster investigates

Morrisons reduces  waste down the supply chain

As Morrisons both produces and sells food, the store is able to reduce food waste at many stages down the supply chain. Morrisons has several ways in which it aims to reduce its levels of food waste at the store level:

  • In previous years any produce that did not fit the strict cosmetic standards, was rejected and sent back to the farmer where it would then be thrown away. Fortunately many supermarkets, including Morrison’s, have since started to market ‘wonky veg’, selling it at a reduces price whilst ensuring there is less food waste further down the supply chain.
  • Nationwide unsold food to charity programme: 430 of its stores currently have partnerships with redistribution organisations e.g. Fareshare, donating their edible surplus to local community organisations and charities.
Waitrose and food waste Good Food Doncaster investigates

Waitrose and food waste Good Food Doncaster investigates

Waitrose reduces supply chain food waste

Waitrose stores aim to reduce food waste in their stores and along the supply chain, in stores they:

  • At the end of the day they donate any unsold produce is donated to local communities or social enterprises. In 2017, Waitrose was rolled out with Fareshare Go which enabled them to reach more charities with their food donations.
  • In 2016, Waitrose launched its ‘Little less than perfect’ range of misshaped vegetables in 40 of its branches. At present the range is limited to carrots, potatoes, onions and parsnips. However, they are in talks with suppliers to extend this range.
Aldi and food waste Good Food Doncaster investigates

Aldi and food waste Good Food Doncaster investigates

Aldi donate ambient food products

Aldi supports the Love Food Hate Waste campaign. It is a signature of WRAPS Courtauld Commitment to reduce food waste by 2025. At present:

  • All Aldi stores in the UK donate their ambient produce to charities through Fareshare.
  • In 2015, the store began to direct surplus food from its suppliers to community shop. This helped to support disadvantaged communities.
Lidl and food waste Good Food Doncaster investigates

Lidl and food waste Good Food Doncaster investigates

Lidl rely on charitable donations

Finally, Lidl has its own ways of reducing its levels of food waste:

  • Some Lidl stores donate their surplus food to local charities using the platform ‘Neighbourly’; this is a social platform that matches stores with charities who could benefit from food donations.

It is clear to see that most of the leading supermarkets have taken the issue of food waste seriously. However, I can’t help but wonder if this is actually down to moral reasonings or imposed corporate social responsibility and the cost of waste disposal. What do you think? Do you feel the supermarkets are doing enough? Should we be campaigning too? What’s your opinion? We would love to know.

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