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We’re supporting Food Waste Action Week

Celena Fernandez, Head of Environment

Did you know that wasted food accounts for more global greenhouse gas emissions than flying? If food waste were a country, it would have the third biggest carbon footprint after the USA and China. 

Food waste feeds climate change and it is having a huge impact on our planet. One way we avoid food being wasted is by redistributing it. This is a really important part of our food waste strategy – To Prevent food going unsold or uneaten; Recover surplus food; and Recycle food waste. During the past year, we’ve seen fluctuations in demand, with parts of our business having to close overnight, but wherever possible we’ve been able to donate surplus food to some of the most vulnerable people across the country …. and save it from going in the bin.

Over 1.1 million tonnes of food is wasted by the UK food industry ever year (WRAP)…  Meanwhile, 10 million people in the UK struggle to afford to eat (The Food Foundation). We’ve been redistributing our surplus food since 2014 and work with a number of dedicated organisations, who help us get it to the right people. In 2020, we donated 267 tonnes of food, enough to provide 635,000 meals for people in need!

Working with FareShare alone, together we saved 235 tonnes of food – the equivalent to 558,762 meals, helping to support nearly 3,000 community groups, through breakfast clubs, food banks, and hostels. 234 tonnes of this was unsold stock donated by our procurement division, Foodbuy, directly from our warehouses. Too Good To Go helped our sites rescue nearly 3,400 meals that were sold to users at a reduced price. Plus, we’ve continued to work with our other partners like Olio and Plan Zheroes, to help get food to people that need it.

We also encourage sites to set up agreements with groups that support vulnerable people within their local communities. For example, when Goodwood Races was cancelled following government changes to lockdown rules, we donated the food that should have been served to racegoers, to City Harvest, supplying them with 500 food hampers. Our staff at Whiston hospital showed support for their local community, by passing on items from care packages to a local charity - the Steve Prescott Foundation. We’ve got many examples and it’s been really amazing to see all our teams get involved.  

As an organisation, we’re leading the way on food waste and our colleagues, clients and customers are coming on the journey with us. This week is WRAP’s inaugural Food Waste Action Week and we’ve partnered with them to support this great initiative. We have a responsibility to reduce food waste to reduce our impact on climate change, but we’re also proud to be supporting local communities on the way. The pandemic has certainly strengthened our partnerships with external food redistributors, and we’ve forged many new relationships too - together we will continue to work to stop food waste.