Co-operative Group takes action to help reduce food waste
To avoid tomatoes from spoiling prematurely, The Co-operative Group in the UK use laser technology to pierce holes in the plastic packaging so that moisture levels are better regulated. The Co-operative Group have also moved away from promotions that are based on volume (“buy one, get one free”) towards ones that are focused on value (half price offers). Recently, the Co-operative Group has made the decision to end “last-minute” sales of fresh produce to reduce the volume of edible food going to waste in its stores every day. Two hours before closing time, the national supermarket chain will remove items with a use by or best before date for that day, so they can be donated to thousands of charities and small community groups in time for them to be frozen or turned into meals.
To address waste in the production and processing stages, Coop Sweden became the first Swedish supermarket to sell “wonky vegetables” in autumn 2015. This fresh produce would otherwise have ended up as production or processing waste because of not meeting the expected aesthetic standards that consumers have become accustomed to. Recently, the Swedish consumer co-operative Swedish retailer Coop has launched new packaging for its private label ground beef, which, among others, will double the shelf life of the product thereby reducing food waste.
To tackle waste that is generated by the way products are sold, Coop Denmark has started to sell all its bananas individually, rather than in bunches. This change is associated with 6,000 fewer bananas being wasted each day.
To help consumers waste less of the food that they buy, Coop Denmark have developed a smartphone application (“Too Good to Go”) that educates consumers on how best to store their food. The app has a repository of over 600 foods and guides consumers on how they can keep these foods fresh for as long as possible. This allows consumers to reduce their food waste and save money.
Furthermore, Coop Denmark sends all its organic waste to biogas production instead of incinerating it. The whole Coop Denmark network is now involved in the organic waste collection, thereby saving 10,000 tons of CO2 annually and heating 5,700 households.
Coop Italy has been running the “Buon Fine” (“To the Good End”) programme since 2003. This sees edible but unmarketable foods (e.g. due to the packaging being damaged, or the products being close to the “use by” date) being withdrawn from shop shelves and allocated to associations that redistribute them to people in need. Through this project, in 2016 Coop Italy donated 6,000 tons of food to 943 charities, which could in turn provide 7 million meals to people in need.
ANCC/Coop Italy has also run the “Coop Knowledge” (“Sapere Coop”) programme for more the 40 years, which develops educational materials for schools, employees and consumer-members aimed at raising awareness among the broader citizenship about healthy and environmentally sustainable lifestyles.
More recently, ANCC/Coop has finalised the “White Book on Food Waste”, which is an analysis on food intended for donation complemented with qualitative and quantitative data. Another initiative is the setting-up of the “Coop Non Spreco” (“Coop No Waste”) community, which is accessible via several media to support consumers, schools and institutions to reduce food surpluses.
There is also a new law on food waste which ANCC/Coop has contributed to which has increased the number of foods which can be donated and extended the products’ expiry dates. The implementation has allowed for the launch of 2 new initiatives: “Eat Me Now”, giving a discount from 20% to 66% on unsold fresh products which are approaching the expiry date, and “Happy Hour” which offers a discount from 30% to 50% in the hours preceding the closing of the store, particularly on bakery products.
Contact name: Rosita Zilli
Contact email: Rzilli@eurocoop.coop
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