The Co-Op has signed a deal with food charity FareShare to have thousands of tonnes of unbought food donated to those in need instead of going to waste.
The scheme, which has been trialled in the Co-Op depot in Castlewood, Derbyshire, has seen 32 tonnes of food redistributed in just ten weeks. Starting today it will expand to the rest of the supermarket chain’s countrywide depots, and could provide 500 tonnes worth of food for donation in 2016.
The scheme’s beneficiaries include homeless hostels, women’s refuges and breakfast clubs for disadvantaged children.
“This project has the capacity to improve the variety and nutritional value of the food redistributed by the Co-op, and to significantly increase the number of people that FareShare can support," said Steve Murrells, Chief Executive of retail at the Co-operative food. “In addition to the huge human benefit there are significant positive environmental impacts as all of this food will be diverted from anaerobic digestion back into the food chain, feeding people first, as was intended.”
This is certainly a step in the right direction. A group of supermarkets including the Co-Op, M&S, Morrisons, Waitrose, Asda and Sainsbury’s were responsible for 200,000 tonnes of wasted food in 2013 according to the BRC. However, this is a mere 1.3% of the total 15m tonnes of food thrown away in the UK, most of which is a result of household wastage.
The Co-Op’s scheme follows in the footsteps of Tesco, the first supermarket to team up with FareShare and a former offender guilty of wasting 10,000 tonnes of food a year.
FareShare is a charity that provides meals for vulnerable people by saving perfectly good food destined for waste. Last year they saved 7493 tonnes of food from waste, using it to provide 16.2m meals for the less fortunate.