Resource Use

Morrisons announces launch of first ‘zero-waste’ stores

Morrisons has announced a transition towards its first six ‘zero-waste’ stores in Edinburgh, to be fully operational by 2025.

The zero-waste aspect of the shops considers both refuse from the store itself and from their customers. Morrisons claims that the initiative will shift the amount of general waste that can be recycled in-store from 27 per cent up to 84 per cent. It also suggests that plans for the collection of the remaining 16 per cent of general waste are to be implemented before 2025. If successful, the format will be rolled out to each of Morrisons’ outlets across the nation.

Morrisons Zero-waste StoresThe trial will involve a partnership between the supermarket chain and Nestlé, which will concentrate on the collection and recycling of typically ‘hard-to-recycle’ soft plastics. The collected waste will be reprocessed within the UK in order to reduce the amount of material that is exported to be handled overseas.

Beyond soft plastics, shop waste will comprise hard plastics, cardboard, food waste, green waste, PPE, tins, cans, and foils. These materials will be sorted by workers within the zero-waste locations, before being collected by specialist waste partners, ready for recycling.

Besides soft plastics, customer waste will include hard plastics, mixed glass, textiles, mixed materials (including coffee pods, to be recycled via the PodBack scheme), specialist products such as ink cartridges and batteries, and previously non-recyclable items, including foils and plant pots. This customer waste will be available for drop off at dedicated collection points located in the store foyers, before being collected for processing.

Morrisons pledges that it will repurpose all of the packaging and product waste it collects, where it will be transformed into other products. One example of which is in hard-to-recycle soft plastic, which will be processed and reconstructed into new eco board products.

In addition to packaging and product waste, the zero-waste scheme will target food refuse. Surplus produce will be accessible to customers through the Too Good to Go app, similar to Tesco’s scheme with Olio, as well as being redistributed within local communities by Morrisons’ partners. Bread waste that is not fit for human consumption will be turned into animal feed, whilst cooking oil will be turned into biodiesel to power Morrisons fleet of trucks.

The zero-waste store initiative forms part of Morrisons broader efforts to reduce its levels of waste. Since 2017, the company claims that it has reduced its own-brand plastic packaging by 8,000 tonnes. It has also abandoned plastic carrier bags in favour of paper carrier bags, as well as introducing refillable container services on its fish, meat and deli counters. Additionally, the supermarket has expanded its range of Naturally Wonky fruit and veg.

In the longer term, Morrisons aims to recycle all of the waste it creates across all its stores by 2025. The company also has a target to reduce operational food waste in-store by 50 per cent by 2030.

The zero-waste stores taking part in the scheme are as follows: Edinburgh Hunters Tryst, Moredun, Ferry Road, South Gyle, Granton and Livingston.

Jamie Winter, Sustainability Procurement Director at Morrisons, commented: “We’re not going to reach our ambitious targets through incremental improvements alone. Sometimes you need to take giant steps and we believe that waste is one of those areas.

“We believe that we can, at a stroke, enable these trial stores to move from recycling around 27 per cent of their general waste to over 84 per cent and with a clear line of sight to 100 per cent. 

“We all need to see waste as a resource to be repurposed and reused. The technology, creativity and will exists - it's a question of harnessing the right process for the right type of waste and executing it well. And all waste collected in our stores will be recycled here in the UK - we will not reprocess anything abroad. If we’re successful, we’ll roll this zero-waste store concept out across the UK as fast as we can.”

Alison Bramfitt, Group Packaging Manager at Nestlé UK and Ireland, said: “At Nestlé, we’re dedicated to driving a more circular system by reducing our use of virgin plastics by one third, and ensuring all of our packaging is reusable or recyclable by 2025.

“We are committed to providing solutions for recycling hard-to-recycle materials, such as film and coffee pods, so we’re delighted to be part of this initiative.”

Helen Bird, Strategic Technical Manager at the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), said: “When it comes to recyclability, there are many elements to consider including design of the packaging and collection of it. In many instances, we need to simplify packaging to make It technically easier to recycle, but we also need to get the collections in place for particular formats, making it as simple as possible to recycle.

“Until we have consistent and comprehensive household collections across the nations, supermarkets play a critical role to enable customers to recycle key items not collected at home. Plastic bags and wrappers make up nearly a quarter of all plastic packaging that we use in our daily lives, yet only 6 per cent is recycled.

“It’s encouraging to see Morrisons initiating collection of this material to enable people to recycle it ahead of it being collected directly from their homes in years to come. We look forward to seeing the results of the trial and hope it’s rolled out across all larger stores in the near future.”