The Co-operative Group says it’s on track to divert all food-store waste from landfill by the end of July — five months ahead of schedule — halving its food waste management costs.
Additionally, the waste reduction will shave thousands of miles off the UK retailer’s distribution network by eliminating about 225,000 waste collections from food stores every year, the company says.
The Co-op, which pledged in its latest Ethical Plan to divert all food store waste from landfill by the end of 2013, says it will achieve this target ahead of schedule by extending its waste back-haul initiative to more than 2,800 food stores.
The initiative will divert more than 34,000 metric tons of waste every year. This includes waste food and flowers (64 percent), which will be sent to an anaerobic digestion facility to generate biogas energy, and customer and general waste (21 percent), which will go to a refuse-derived fuel facility that shreds and dehydrates solid waste to produce fuel. Dry mixed items (15 percent), such as empty milk bottles, tins, cans, office paper and till receipts, will go to dedicated materials recycling facilities, which sort and separate materials that can be recycled into new goods and products.
The Co-op works with waste management company Biffa on the back-haul program, which has already been introduced at about 1,500 food stores.
The company has several other processes in place at the store level and in the supply chain to reduce waste. Last month it announced it has reduced the weight of its own-brand wine bottles, saving 725 metric tons of glass and more than 556 metric tons of CO2 per year.
The Co-op says it has reduced the weight of its own-brand packaging by about 20 percent since 2009, and has cut the waste it generates by 37 percent since 2006, saving about 50,000 metric tons a year.
Earlier this month, the Co-op — along with Coca-Cola Enterprises, Unilever, AB InBev and Nestlé and 40 other UK retailers, manufacturers and brands — committed to reducing food and drink waste by 1.1 million metric tons by 2015 in the third phase of the Courtauld Commitment.