Food retailer's tastes success with efforts to redistribute surplus food to charities, community groups, businesses and its own staff
Iceland has cut down its food waste by almost a quarter over the past two years, saving almost 2,500 tonnes from being binned through a greater focus on measurement and efficiencies across it stores, as well as redistributing unsold food to charities and supermarket staff.
The food retailer yesterday announced a 23.5 per cent drop in food waste across its business since 2018, putting it well on track to halve food waste across its operations by 2030, in line with the target set out in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Last year Iceland sold over 1.3 million tonnes of food to its customers but sent zero food waste to landfill, instead donating surplus food to local communities, converting it into animal feed, or "as a last resort" processing it into energy through anaerobic digestion, it said.
The retailer said it had donated almost 158 tonnes of surplus food to people in need over the past two years, including through its partnership with charity The Bread and Butter to which Iceland has donated the equivalent of almost 375,000 meals a day in surplus food. It has also been sending unsold bread to Tiny Rebel Brewery in Wales to produce beer.
As a next step, Iceland has announced plans to go ahead with a national rollout of a 100-store trial, which saw store staff given surplus food at closing time each day. The trial is set to be rolled out across almost 1,000 stores over the coming months, it added, giving staff the option of taking food home or donating it to charity.
"We've worked with communities, colleagues and customers to make significant reductions and I am delighted that we have been able to make great strides in reducing our food waste footprint over the past two years," said Iceland managing director Richard Walker. "We're continuing to innovate and find new ways to reduce the amount of food wasted across our operations, and our trial to give food to our colleagues is just one of the next steps we'll be taking to build on our progress so far. I'm looking forward to seeing this in action across our stores and working with colleagues to take the next steps in our food waste reduction journey."
The update comes a year after government food waste champion Ben Elliot called on UK retailers and food businesses to "step up to the plate" and push forward with plans to cut down on waste using charity WRAP's 'target, measure, act' approach.
WRAP director Peter Maddox welcomed Iceland's "impressive" progress on reducing food waste. "Publicly reporting shows a long-term commitment to tackling food waste in an efficient and transparent way, and we encourage all food businesses to adopt this approach," he added.
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