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Sainsbury’s seeks food waste trial town

Sainsbury’s seeks food waste trial town
Sainsbury's is searching for a UK town to test initiatives to combat household food waste.
Sainsbury’s has today (21 September) launched a five-year plan targeting food waste in the household.

The ‘Waste Less, Save More’ initiative has kicked off the £10-million project with a search for a UK town to receive a £1-million investment to become the location for pilot initiatives aiming to discover which interventions are most effective at reducing household waste.

The project is a response to the figures published by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) in 2012 that say that 7 million tonnes of food and drink is wasted by households annually, with the average family throwing away £700 of food each year.

This, according to the WRAP report, ‘Household food and drink waste in the UK 2012’, makes up around 50 per cent of all food waste in the UK.

Sainsbury’s seeks food waste trial town ‘Trial town’ to test initiatives

Sainsbury’s is now taking applications for towns wishing to be considered for the role of ‘trial town’. The chosen community will have a population of between 15,000 and 300,000 and will have a Sainsbury’s store within a five-mile radius.

Once the town has been announced on 1 December, the retailer will work with it to devise a year-long plan that it says might include:

  • fridge innovations to track when food is going to go off;
  • talking bins that give tips as rubbish is put in them;
  • reward programmes to encourage recycling;
  • new packaging to keep products fresher for longer; and
  • educational programmes for local schools and community centres.

Findings and recommendations from this trial phase will then be developed into a blueprint for other communities to follow.

Sainsbury’s then plans to focus on ‘supporting the changes that need to be made to make a long-term difference’ and measuring the impact of activities, with the final phases of the project exploring opportunities to reduce other forms of waste.

Bringing communities together to tackle food waste issue

Commenting on the launch of the project, Mike Coupe, CEO of Sainsbury’s, said: “We know that waste – and particularly food waste – is a big challenge for households across the UK and it’s something our customers really care about. We’re confident that the project, which will start with trialling and testing in one UK town, will result in positive change for many more.”

Rory Stewart, Environment Minister, added: “Everyone has a role to play in reducing food waste and I congratulate Sainsbury’s for looking at innovative solutions to address this nationwide problem. ‘Waste Less, Save More’ is bringing together a major retailer and communities to generate new ideas to tackle this issue. I looking forward to seeing the successes from this scheme.”

Richard Swannell, Director Sustainable Food Systems at WRAP, concluded: “This is a great initiative by Sainsbury’s to help people reduce food waste at home. We know through our Love Food Hate Waste and Courtauld Commitment work that innovation and collaboration can significantly help reduce waste, delivering.”

UK retailers and food waste

Retailers and food waste have been in the news in the past few weeks for a variety of reasons.

On 9 September, MP Kerry McCarthy, who has since been named as Shadow Environment Secretary by new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, succeeded in getting her proposed Food Waste (Reduction) Bill a second reading in Parliament.

Should the bill be voted through into law, supermarkets would be obliged to donate unsold foods to local charities, as well as publishing food waste arisings across their supply chains and committing to reduce food waste by 30 per cent by 2025.

Some retailers are already making steps to redistribute unsold food, however.

Last week, The Co-operative Food announced a partnership with food redistribution charity FareShare that will see around 500 tonnes of surplus chilled items from its nine UK depots sent to provide meals for vulnerable people across Britain.

Find out more about the Sainsbury’s ‘Waste Less, Save More’ initiative.

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