Supermarkets cut down on food waste

  • 06/01/2014

Thousands of tonnes of food are thrown into landfills by supermarkets every year at a financial and environmental cost.

But a growing movement is fighting that waste and feeding those in need in the process.

When Wellington company Kaibosh gives discarded food a second life, it's a win-win situation.

"Kaibosh serves two missions – it's a social justice side, which is providing for people who don't have enough food to eat, and there's also the environmental side, where we're stopping food from being needlessly wasted," says general manager Matt Dagger.

The not-for-profit takes donated food from a long list of organisations, like restaurants, cafes, factories, supermarkets and logistical companies. Volunteers then check it for quality before it's sent on to partner charities.

"The food comes from around 27 different food donors," says Mr Dagger. "It's around 10,000kg, so 10 tonnes of food a month. That works out at about 28,500 meals provided each month."

One of the main contributors is Countdown. The supermarket giant's Food Rescue programme saw $1.4 million worth of discarded food donated to food banks last year.

"The food is still perfectly fine to eat, so a dented can is a good example, or it's just past its best-before date – still perfectly fine to eat, just we can't sell it," says general manager of strategic planning at Countdown Richard Manaton.

Countdown began looking at cutting the amount it throws away back in 2006.

"Over that period of time we've reduced our waste by over 38 percent, so that's about 9000 tonnes of waste that's not going to landfill, and a big part of that is the Food Rescue programme," says Mr Manaton.

And through organisations like Kaibosh and the Salvation Army, the food's gone to good use.

"We, over this past year for example, have given out 58,707 food parcels to just over 28,000 families and individuals," says Jenny Collings, corps officer at the Salvation Army.

While less waste is good news for both the environment and those in need of a meal, there is still room for improvement. Countdown still sends 12,000 tonnes of waste to the dump annually. It says it's on track to reduce waste to 1 percent or less of total stock, but consumers need to play their part.

"The biggest part of the waste now seems to be in the home, not in the supply chains," says Mr Manaton.

It's something to keep in mind this summer when BBQ leftovers look destined for the bin.

3 News

source: newshub archive