Marks & Spencer (M&S) announced that it plans on distributing thousands of tonnes of surplus food to charities across the UK.
The company says that 150 of its biggest stores will be ready to redistribute surplus food by December, followed by a roll out to all M&S’s owned stores by Spring next year.
The move is part of the company’s target of reducing food waste by 20 percent by 2020.
To make the food redistribution scheme possible M&S partnered with Neighbourly, a social networking platform that connects businesses with community projects.
Food charities will be able to sign up on the Neighbourly website to receive food from local M&S stores.
Nick Davies, founder of Neighbourly, said: “Putting food resources to the best possible use is a huge aspect of creating a sustainable planet.”
Redistributed food will include fruit, vegetables, bread, cakes and groceries that are about to expire.
According to M&S, using a single platform “removes some of the logistical barriers to redistribution, including ensuring that all those registered have the correct charity and food hygiene credentials in place.”
Louise Nicholls, the supermarket’s head of responsible sourcing, said: “This is the first nationwide redistribution scheme to provide an innovative, practical solution to surplus food redistribution by building local connections, enabling all our stores to link with local food projects and help support their communities.”
Dr Richard Swannell, Director of Sustainable Food Systems at WRAP, commented:
“Ensuring that surplus food goes to feed people benefits society, the environment and the economy and WRAP welcomes this initiative from M&S.”
“Our work has identified barriers that effect redistribution, and key among these is establishing good links between retailers and charities that work on a local, and national, level. Having a system by which charities can identify surplus food available in their area is a great way to ensure food reaches those most in need, and avoids needless waste.”
The company currently sends food waste to anaerobic digestion energy plants.