Waste is a major concern here in Britain. Government intervention with the matter means that there are goals and pledges being set up left, right, and centre, such as the pledge by Prime Minister Theresa May for the nation to be plastic-free by 2042. Supermarkets are starting to try and curb the problem themselves: Iceland are in the middle of removing plastic from their branded items before 2023 as a result of 80% of their customers supporting the move. But what are other supermarkets up to? To find out, we’ve teamed up with waste management experts Reconomy, which offers 8 yard skip hire services and more that can help your business on any project, to see what supermarkets around the UK are doing to help tackle this problem.

Every year, the UK throws away £12.5 billion worth of food and drink, totalling 7 million tonnes of food and drink, says the Food Standards Agency. 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 UK’s fifth largest food retailer and has a strong stance on food waste issues. 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.

Co-Op has stated that it will sell food that has past its best before date for up to a month. These out-of-date products will be sold for just 10p, and will include tinned goods, pastas and food sealed in packets.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 Food has said that from this new scheme, it will be able to save over 50,000 items each year that would have went to waste — helping tackle a huge environmental problem.


Tesco is one of the biggest grocery stores, so when it changes its methods, the impact is huge. 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. At the end of the day, surplus foods and food that can no longer be sold in store (maybe due to appearance) will then become available for a charity to collect, free of charge, on the FoodCloud app (which Tesco is currently trialling for its stores in Asia). Through this initiative, Tesco has helped provide six million meals to over 3,500 different charities.

No food from Tesco stores has gone to landfill since 2009. 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 used in Europe as well as in the UK. 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.

Plus, Tesco has created an agreement with 24 suppliers in order to reduce its food waste by 50% by 2030. This agreement is called the Sustainable Development Goal. 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.

Hopefully, more stores will follow their lead, as the scale of food waste and plastic usage could decrease so much more if they did.

Terry Clark
Author: Terry Clark