One of the targets in the company’s 20×20 sustainability plan, Sainsbury’s achieved its zero waste to landfill target in three years, while its like-for-like sales grew by 0.8% in the first quarter of 2013.

Surplus food that Sainsbury’s cannot donate to its charity partners to feed vulnerable people is now processed into animal feed to support British farmers or used to generate energy through anaerobic digestion. In addition, all the general waste from its stores is recycled or turned into fuel.

Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King said: “We know times are tough for many customers but they still rightly expect Sainsbury’s to lead the way on the things that will always matter to all of us including caring for our environment.”

The food retailer is also providing ways for its customers to make their food go further and waste less. For example, it changed its approach to ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables during one of the worst growing seasons last autumn by allowing food to be sold that would previously have been wasted.

Sainsbury’s has also changed its freezing labels to say ‘Freeze as soon as possible after purchase and always within the use by date’ instead of ‘Freeze on day of purchase’.

In addition to donating food to charities, Sainsbury’s processes inedible waste bakery products into high energy biscuit meals for animal feed for pigs and cows, and any remaining food waste is turned into energy through anaerobic digestion.

The company is currently the UK’s largest retail user of anaerobic digestion, generating enough energy to power 2,500 homes.

Conor McGlone

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