Waitrose has achieved its target of sending zero food waste to landfill two months ahead of schedule.
Originally, the supermarket chain had said all 280 of its UK branches would recycle or donate food waste that is unfit for consumption by the end of 2012; it has done so this week, according to the company.
Waitrose first partnered with Cawleys, a resource management company, in 2008 to send food waste to anaerobic digestion, which breaks down organic matter and converts it into energy. When the food waste isn’t suitable for anaerobic digestion, Cawleys uses in-vessel composting. According to Waitrose, it was the first UK supermarket to send food to anaerobic digestion, and Cawleys was the first waste management company in Britain to offer this commercial food waste recycling service.
In July, Waitrose announced that all of its branches would donate surplus food within their local communities by the end of the year. Waitrose has also cut food waste by using damaged fruit and vegetables in its Partner dining rooms, and promoting weather-damaged produce to its customers in support of British farmers.
Earlier this year Waitrose Stratford City in London achieved the world’s first Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) Outstanding rating for a retail building. The supermarket runs off-grid using an energy center located at the shopping mall for its heating and cooling requirements, and also uses water-cooled, propane-based refrigeration, which reduce energy demand by 25 percent.
In 2010, the supermarket chain began selling meat in plastic pouches instead of the traditional polystyrene trays, which was expected to save 9,000 tons of packaging annually and cut waste in half. It was the first major supermarket chain to drop plastic trays on all its meat lines, according to the Telegraph.