Announced at Birmingham’s Custard Factory yesterday (8 November), the retailer’s latest step in the fight against food waste has tasked communities with implementing programmes that have proved successful during its previous Swadlincote, Derbyshire project.

The event attended by community leaders made the £1m fund available to towns and cities signing up to the campaign as “Discovery Communities”. So far, the event has seen 111 discovery communities confirmed.

Speaking at the event in Birmingham, Sainsbury’s head of sustainability, property, engineering and environment Paul Crewe said: “Today marks a significant milestone in our Waste less, Save more programme as we broaden out our focus from a single trial town to sharing our learnings with communities up and down the UK.

“With well over 100 communities already signed up, the response so far has been overwhelming and really highlights that the nation is waking up to food waste. Not only will a reduction have a huge environmental impact but, with families throwing away £700 a year on uneaten food, it will help put more money back in the pocket of British people too.”

‘Action is needed’

Sainsbury’s will also provide Discovery Communities with guidance enabling them to replicate the success of the year-long trial undertaken at Swadlincote. These low-investment solutions involve running community events, school programmes and even introducing technologies into households.

Commenting on the announcement David Rogers from WRAP, which is working with Sainsbury’s on the project, said: “Today’s event has highlighted a huge appetite to reduce food waste across the country from local councils, community groups and businesses.

“WRAP’s research has shown the scale of food waste in the UK, and we know that action is needed – for people, our pockets and the planet. I’m delighted to see initiatives from Sainsbury’s shine a light on the issue of food waste, and we look forward to working together and supporting them every step of the way”.

Britain’s supermarkets have been involved in a number of controversies surrounding food waste commitments. Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe recently received a fresh wave of criticism from celebrity chef-turned-eco-warrior Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall about the “ridiculous” cosmetic standards of fruit and veg sold by British supermarkets – resulting in many perfectly edible vegetables being thrown away.

Alex Baldwin

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