M&S to donate surplus food to charities

Marks & Spencer (M&S) has today (9 October) announced the launch of a nationwide food redistribution scheme which will see 150 of the supermarket's biggest stores pass surplus food onto a host of local charities.

The initiative forms part of M&S’ Plan A target of reducing food waste by 20% by 2020. Surplus food including fruit, vegetables, bread, cakes and groceries will be distributed via the social network Neighbourly.

M&S’ head of responsible sourcing, packaging & Plan A Louise Nicholls said: “Our key priority is to reduce food waste whilst ensuring that, where there is food surplus, we put it to the best possible use.

“This is the first nationwide redistribution scheme to provide an innovative, practical solution to surplus food redistribution by building local connections, enabling all our stores to link with local food projects and help support their communities.

“Our ambition is that this, alongside the work we are doing with our suppliers, will accelerate us towards our Plan A target of reducing food waste in our stores by 20% by 2020.”

Social shopping

The scheme was successfully trialled by M&S across six stores in the Bristol and Bath area. Since April, these stores have redistributed nearly four tonnes of surplus food and charity collections are now occurring on a daily basis.

Any food charity can register with the scheme as of Monday (12 October) and can specify certain food requirements and requests. M&S hope that its biggest stores will be ready to redistribute by December this year followed by roll out to all M&S owned stores by early 2016.

The use of the Neighbourly social network will allow M&S to monitor what products are continuously surplus and begin implementing ways to reduce them. Managing through the network also ensure all registered charities have the correct food hygiene credentials in place.

Commenting on the new initiative, WRAP’s director of sustainable food systems Dr Richard Swannell said: “Having a system by which charities can identify surplus food available in their area is a great way to ensure food reaches those most in need, and avoids needless waste.”

Sustainability leader

The work with Neighbourly is another notch on the belt for M&S’ Plan A progress.

Last year, the group signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) to buy back renewable energy generated from its own food waste.

In May of this year, the supermarket brand reaffirmed its commitment to 100% renewable energy, by the joining RE100 initiative.

And In July, the company launched the M&S Community Energy Fund which will provide up to £400,000 for community energy projects provided the applicants are not-for-profit organisations that want to use renewable energy for the benefit of their local community.

Matt Mace

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