The supermarket is searching for a town in the UK that will become a ‘test bed for innovation’; to find which initiatives are most effective in reducing food waste.

Findings and recommendations from year one of the ‘Waste Less, Save More’ initiative will be developed into a blueprint and made public so that communities across the country can benefit from the results. 

Sainsbury’s says it will then focus on “making a long-term difference” and measuring the impact of the activity, with the final phases of the project exploring opportunities to reduce other forms of waste.

Households account for roughly half of the 15 million tonnes of food wasted in the UK every year, with an average family throwing away around £700 of food annually.

Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe said:  “We know that waste – and particularly food waste – is a big challenge for households across the UK and it’s something our customers really care about.

“Investing significantly in this area clearly demonstrates the scale of our ambition over the next five years and shows just how committed we are to helping our customers make a real difference in this area.

“We’re confident that the project, which will start with trialling and testing in one UK town, will result in positive change for many more.”

Test bed

Sainsbury’s is now looking for a trial town that has a population of between 15,000 and 300,000 and has a Sainsbury’s store within a five-mile radius. The town must also demonstrate a “strong sense of community” and be willing to work together to tackle food waste.

Innovations in the first year could include:

Fridge innovations to track when food is beginning to go off
Talking bins that give tips as rubbish is put in them
Reward programmes to encourage recycling
New packaging to keep products fresher for longer
Educational programmes for local schools and community centres

Industry solution

UK Environment Minister Rory Stewart has welcomed the initiative. He said: “Everyone has a role to play in reducing food waste and I congratulate Sainsbury’s for looking at innovative solutions to address this nationwide problem.

Waste Less, Save More is bringing together a major retailer and communities to generate new ideas to tackle this issue. I looking forward to seeing the successes from this scheme.”

The initiative is the latest and perhaps most ambitious project from Britain’s supermarkets, who are united in agreeing that more must be done to combat food waste.

Tesco has a plan to cut food waste by handing out tonnes of surplus food to charities at the end of each day, while Morrison’s runs a similar scheme with FoodCycle.

However the Sainsbury’s project breaks new ground, by trying to generate changes in the home.

Waste charity WRAP said it planned to work closely with Sainsbury’s to ensure the success of the scheme. WRAP’s director of sustainable food systems Dr Richard Swannell said: “This is a great initiative by Sainsbury’s to help people reduce food waste at home.

“We know through our Love Food Hate Waste and Courtauld Commitment work that innovation and collaboration can significantly help reduce waste, delivering much needed cost and environmental savings.”

Brad Allen

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