Tesco and suppliers cut 200,000 tonnes food waste from operations

Image: GDS Infographics

Food waste from supermarkets and their suppliers is a major source of waste that needs to be addressed urgently, as it contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.  The Covid pandemic has also shown that food supply chains need to be examined to make them more robust.

The supermarket chain Tesco has been publishing its own food waste data for the eight years and challenges other retailers and food companies to do likewise.  Working in partnership with 71 of its largest suppliers around the world, Tesco reports it has cut 200,000 tonnes of food waste from their combined, worldwide operations in the last eight years.

Working with its own-label suppliers, Tesco has cut 125,000 tonnes of food waste over the last three years and worked in partnership with 11 of the world’s biggest household brands – including Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, Nestlé and Unilever – who report a further cut of 30,000 tonnes from their operations.

Following this lead, all companies should be setting food waste reduction targets and publish their data.

According to Tesco and members of the global coalition, Champions 12.3 the combined effects of climate change and Covid-19 have made tackling food waste more urgent than ever.  The coalition warns that food waste accounts for 8% of all global greenhouse gas emissions and that unless we act now, we will undermine our ability to tackle the climate emergency.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 has exposed what it calls ‘weaknesses’ in the global food system, driving up food waste, impacting farmer incomes and increasing the number of people who go to bed hungry.

The UK government and its counterparts around the world are being asked to embed food loss and waste reduction into post-Covid plans to bolster supply chains.

Dave Lewis, Tesco CEO and Chair of Champions 12.3 says that one third of the world’s food is going to waste, while one in nine people go hungry.  If food loss and waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases on the planet.  In order to halve global food waste by 2030, more must be done with more urgency than ever before.

Progress is being made, with the UK cutting food waste by 27% since 2007 and hundreds of companies, doing their part but there is still more to do and even more companies need to set food waste reduction targets and publish their data.

A good start but more is needed to be done by other food manufacturers and by consumers to reduce food waste.