Food waste rotting bananas

Tesco brings food waste reduction target forward by five years

Tesco is speeding up efforts to halve food waste in its own operations by 2025, five years ahead of the original UN goal.

The retailer has laid out plans to bring forward the target, including increasing the amount of surplus food it donates as well as expanding its supplier partnership programme to further help farmers reduce food waste.

Additionally, Tesco will introduce new sustainability-linked executive pay performance targets. The move will see 25% of its executive directors’ ‘performance share plan’ awards depend on the company’s progress on key sustainability measures including food waste and CO2 emissions reduction.

Group CEO Ken Murphy said it hoped accelerating the food waste goal and aligning executive pay performance targets to it would “drive further transformative change”.

“While I’m proud of our progress in making sure good food doesn’t go to waste, we know there’s still more work to do.”

Implementation of food waste reporting

However he added the work that supermarkets and suppliers do was not enough to “tackle the issue alone” and called on the government to introduce mandatory food waste reporting to help measure the impact of the food industry on the environment.

Murphy’s comments came as a landmark target that originally aimed to have the UK’s large food businesses implement food waste reporting was reportedly “set to be axed”, as The Grocer reported last week.

As part of Wrap’s and IGD’s Food Waste Reduction Roadmap, businesses were set to implement the ‘Target, Measure, Act’ principles by 2026. The industry-wide efforts were part of a larger goal to halve food waste by 2030 against a 2007 baseline, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3.

Now, the plan is reportedly being redrawn to take into account the “huge economic challenges” facing food and drink companies including the lasting impact of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the cost of living crisis.

“Action must be taken across the whole industry,” Murphy said.

Tesco set to continue food waste investment

Tesco’s strategy to speed up its food waste reduction target will also see a continued investment in its existing food surplus redistribution programmes such as partnerships with FareShare and Olio, as well as working with suppliers to redistribute surplus food to local communities as well as manage bumper crops.

Tesco will also increase efforts to divert more surplus food that cannot be consumed by humans to suppliers who can use it as animal feed, and continue focusing on innovative new solutions to turn food waste into animal feed.

The grocer said 0.35% of the food it handled last year ended up as waste. It has reduced food waste across its own operations by 45% compared to 2016/2017.

It has also helped customers and colleagues to reduce their household food waste levels through several initiatives, including letting staff take home food approaching its expiry date and launching the ‘use up day’ campaign, which encouraged shoppers to cut food waste and save money by implementing simple weekly food hacks.