Sainsbury’s and Hubbub target food waste through Community Fridge Network

Sainsbury's and electronic appliances company Bosch have partnered with charity Hubbub to stock communal fridges with surplus food from local businesses for surrounding communities to access free of charge.

The Community Fridge Network, announced today (20 July), mirrors successful trials in Spain and Germany and will first be placed in Milton Keynes, three areas of North London, and across Northern Ireland. It is hoped that the network will cut back on the £16bn of food discarded by UK households and the hospitality sector annually.

Hubbub’s chief executive Trewin Restorick said: “Communities have long demonstrated an incredible ability to pull together to makes positive things happen and I’m delighted that there is growing support for this movement to tackle food waste at a community level. It’s great to see healthy perishable food going to those who need it most and we would love to hear from other communities who might be interested in joining us.”

Further Community Fridge rollouts have been scheduled for Bournemouth and Tyneside over the next 12 months. They will build on learnings from Sainsbury’s own community fridge pilot, which was launched in Swadlincote last year as part of the Waste less, Save more programme. The programme has seen 9,000 items of food redistributed in the town in seven months.

Sainsbury’s invested £1m into the Derbyshire town on a range of food waste initiatives. Since then, more than 100 community leaders have signed up to the supermarket’s campaign to reduce food waste across towns and cities. These existing community projects, which are also located in Frome and Brixton, will now join the new network of 30 fridge locations.

“We are delighted to support The Community Fridge Network,” Sainsbury’s head of sustainability Paul Crewe said. “This innovative trial has shown us that one small town can save over 500kg of food every month, so this is a fantastic opportunity for even more people to reduce their food waste and save money. 

“As a business, we are committed to helping our customers reduce their food waste via our Waste less, Save more campaign, while at the same time we are always looking for ways for us to reduce our own food surplus.  Up until now, we’ve been providing over 1,000 local charities up and down the UK with surplus food that doesn’t need refrigeration – so this now gives us the opportunity to provide chilled surplus food to those that need it most.”

Earlier this year, Sainsbury’s refuted claims made in the Guardian that the retailer had dropped its ambitious consumer-facing target, which aims to halve its UK consumers’ household food waste in five years.

Community Fridge projects have had to overcome various legal requirements around food hygiene. The network will provide legal advice and support to organisers of each community fridge to create a best practice sharing ethos. Fridges for the latest batch of projects, which will open this month, were supplied by Bosch.

Engaging innovations

The innovative approach to consumer awareness and behaviour change has previously been championed by Hubbub. The charity, which has issued various campaigns around cigarette waste, coffee cups and litter lounges, told edie last month that sustainability professionals must become more creative in their approach to consumer engagement.

These campaigns are finally bearing fruit for the sectors involved. During a recent five-year period, levels of food waste fell by 21%, through pioneering campaigns such as the Courtauld Commitment and Love Food Hate Waste. Recent figures from the private sector reveal that UK retailers and manufacturers generated an estimated £100m in food waste savings between 2012 and 2015.

Matt Mace

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