How supermarkets are tackling the waste problem

Waste is evidentially a huge problem in the UK, which hasn’t gone unnoticed by Theresa May who pledged to eliminate plastic by 2042. Iceland is one supermarket that is already preparing to make the appropriate changes to get rid of plastic from their branded products — with an aim of doing so before 2023 after 80% of their customers said they would support the change. But where do supermarkets stand on the greater issue of food waste?

Teaming up with eight yard skip hire company Reconomy, we explore further at what supermarkets around the UK are doing to help tackle this problem.

The Food Standards Agency, had revealed that the UK throws away seven million tonnes of food and drink in the household every year which could be eaten, costing the country £12.5bn. But what are supermarkets doing to tackle the waste problem? We take a look at some of the main companies making changes.

Co-op Food

Co-op is the fifth biggest food retail in the UK – with over 2,500 stores across the nation – they are taking a strong stand to tackle the food waste here in Britain. 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 10x 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.

The food retailer announced that it will sell food up to a month past its best-before date with hopes to reduce the amount of waste that is being produced. These out-of-date products will be sold for just 10p, and will include tinned goods, pastas and food sealed in packets.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 withhold safety measures — especially with meat and dairy products.

Co-op had said that they would save over 50,000 items being wasted each year through this new scheme – helping to tackle a huge environmental problem.


Tesco is one the nation’s biggest grocery store who has taken the right step to help battle the waste problem that this country is facing. With 6,553 stores and serving 50 million shoppers each week, less than 1% of food is wasted, which removes 46,000 tonnes of waste from circulation.

Surplus food and food that can no longer be sold in store at the end of the day, will then become available for a charity to collect, free of charge, on the FoodCloud app (which is currently being trailed in Tesco stores in Asia). Through this initiative, Tesco has helped provide six million meals to over 3,500 different charities.

As well as the app, Tesco has achieved zero landfill waste in 2009 (which means none of the food has entered a landfill), and they did this through a few ways. 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.

These methods have been tried across many stores across the UK and Europe (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia). Some 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.

And it doesn’t stop there, the retailer had also announced an agreement with 24 of its largest suppliers to create a Sustainable Development Goal to reduce its 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.

If more supermarkets were to help reduce the amount of waste that they produce, whether this is food waste or plastic usage, the world would see general improvements that could help the environment and safeguard our planet.

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