Waitrose Image

Source: Waitrose

Waitrose has ended a trial with the same food waste processor fired by Tesco for sending waste to anaerobic digestion, rather than converting it into animal feed, The Grocer can reveal.

The contractor in question – Daventry-based Resource Secure Recovery, also trading as Resource Innovations Group – partnered with Waitrose on a trial in March last year that was rolled out to 75 stores.

At the time, Waitrose said it expected the partnership to make “a significant contribution towards our commitment to reducing food waste by 50%”.

Waitrose told The Grocer that “we have ended this trial with our original provider, and are now working with a new provider to help meet our goals to halve food waste by 2030”.

The trial – which ran in a similar way to Tesco’s work with the contractor – saw store staff segregate damaged or leftover food into colour-coded bags, which were backhauled to Waitrose depots, and collected by Resource, which claimed it would turn it into animal feed or petfood.

The leftover food sorting initially took place in 20 stores and was later extended to a further 55. What Waitrose called a “small-scale” trial came in response to a 33% increase in the amount of surplus food going into Waitrose store bins since 2020, the supermarket said.

Following an internal review by Tesco, the supermarket last month said it had discovered “food which we believed was being processed for animal feed was in fact going to anaerobic digestion”. In the ‘food waste hierarchy’ converting food that cannot be consumed by humans into animal feed is seen as preferable to it being sent to anaerobic digestion, which is used to generate energy.

In light of its findings, Tesco corrected its food waste reduction figure across its group operations from a claimed fall of 45% from 2016/17 to 2022/3, to just 18%.

Waitrose told The Grocer that despite the revelations about Resource it did “not currently anticipate that this will affect our food waste figures”.

Tesco is also understood to have been working with Resource on a separate venture that saw food waste processed by the contractor’s business arm Resource Insects and fed to black solider flies.

“Insects are a natural protein in the diets of fish, chickens and many pets, and in addition to creating a sustainable animal feed, this process avoids significant methane emissions from decomposing food,” Tesco said upon the launch of the initiative in February last year. “It also gives rise to a byproduct called frass, an insect manure which can be used as an organic fertiliser. By diverting our food waste to grow insect protein, we have the opportunity to turn food no longer fit for human consumption into a much more environmentally-friendly commodity.”

Resource MD Ian Robb told The Grocer he was waiting for a full debrief from Tesco and Waitrose on ”what they feel has been the breakdown and what they feel the issue is” before he would comment.