Waitrose has announced a new commitment to enable all of its branches to donate surplus food to charities across the UK by the end of 2012.
This will be its preferred route for any unsold food that is still fit for consumption and will help the retailer achieve its goal of diverting 100% of its food waste from landfill by the end of this year. It builds on its commitment to Tristram Stuart’s campaign, ‘Feeding the 5000′, which Waitrose is the only major retailer to have signed up to.
The supermarket has already made significant steps to prevent its surplus food going to landfill by sending it to anaerobic digestion (AD) plants where it is converted into renewable energy which goes back in to the national grid.
Quentin Clark, head of sustainability and ethical sourcing at Waitrose, said: “This latest commitment will help us strengthen our support for local communities, at the same time as reducing our impact on the environment. Of course, it is not in our business interest to produce any surplus food, but inevitably some does occur and it’s fantastic that we can now tell our customers that it is all being put to good use.”
An example of where Waitrose is already distributing its surplus food to the local community is its work with Esther Community Enterprise (ECE) who collects surplus food from 30 of its shops around the country and distributes it to local people in need of support. Some Waitrose shops also have local agreements in place, for example Waitrose Menai Bridge donates surplus fruit and vegetables that are not fit for human consumption to a local zoo where it is used as food for the animals, and this will continue under the new commitment.
However, this new initiative will make it easier for all Waitrose branches to get involved, by setting up relationships with regional and national food distribution organisations who will give out food to local charities and organisations on the supermarket’s behalf.
June Ross-Wildman, founder of ECE, said: “Our partnership with Waitrose continues to provide a much needed service to our communities across the UK, by donating good surplus food to those that are struggling in this time of austerity. ECE volunteers are committed to supporting retailers in their quest to end food inequality.”
Any surplus food from Waitrose shops that is not fit for consumption will continue to be sent to AD plants to be converted into renewable energy and fed back into the national grid.