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Sustainability Leaders Awards 2012


Waste Management: Food & Drink WINNER: Sainsbury’s


By diverting all of its food waste from landfill – a key requirement of its 20 by 20 Sustainability Plan – Sainsbury’s now claims to be the UK’s largest user of anaerobic digestion


Last year Sainsbury’s launched its 20 by 20 Sustainability Plan to much acclaim. A number of the commitments under the plan relate specifically to waste and resource use, but for the retailer the most important one was to use anaerobic digestion (AD) as its preferred disposal route for food waste that is not suitable for donation or animal feed.


Considering the UK throws away 15 million tonnes of food annually, half of which is from businesses, it was a pressing issue that the company wanted to address. While Sainsbury’s already undertakes careful stock management and price reduction as products near end of shelf life, it realised it needed to


L-r: compere Sue Perkins, Professor Tom Stephenson, Cranfield University and David Merefield, Sainsbury’s


change its approach from waste disposal to resource recovery. Currently, any surplus food fit for human consumption is donated to Fareshare. Anything not fit is sent to animal chari- ties, while bread waste goes to animal feed. In 2011-12, 14,000 tonnes of waste


was disposed of this way. However residual food waste presented a dilemma - the company faced three options; send- ing food waste to landfill, for rendering or to AD. The retailer decided its preferred route should be AD. It not only helps meet zero


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