Ireland | Food waste

Food waste

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations estimates that approximately one third of all food produced in the world is lost or wasted.

As a retailer we know that perfectly matching supply and demand is impossible – there will always be some unsold surplus food in our business.

However, at Tesco, we have no time for waste and we believe its simply not right that perfectly good food should go to waste at any point in the supply chain, and we've made a commitment to help reduce food waste on farms, in our stores and at home.

We set an ambitious target to help halve food waste from farm to fork by 2030 to help meet the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, and also Sustainable Development Goal 2 which aims to tackle the issue of food poverty and hunger.

Tesco has achieved zero waste to landfill since 2009 by working closely with its waste providers to follow the waste hierarchy, segregating waste in its stores, distribution centres and in its head office to ensure it can reuse, recycle recover and finally dispose of its waste in the right ways. 

We were the first Irish retailer to publish the amount of food wasted in our operations, and we were also the first retailer in Ireland to partner with FoodCloud, an Irish social enterprise that links businesses who have too much food with those who need it most.

Champions 12.3

We’re clear that we have a shared responsibility to tackle food waste wherever it occurs. Our approach is based on a simple principle: we must understand where food is wasted from farm to fork, and in what quantities, before we can act together to tackle it. A major part of our work to reduce food waste has involved working in partnership with our suppliers.

At a global level, Tesco chairs a coalition of leaders from government, businesses, international organisations, research institutions, and civil society called Champions 12.3. This group is dedicated to accelerating progress towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal Target 12.3 to halve food waste by 2030.

At Tesco Ireland, we’re working in partnership with fifteen of our largest Irish fresh food suppliers on the Champions 12.3 initiative to support them to share the amount of food waste in their operations and use this insight to take action farm to fork.

Led by Tesco Ireland, these Irish food suppliers have committed to publicly target, measure and act to tackle the issue of food waste at their manufacturing sites and to working collaboratively to adopt the UN’s SDG12.3. 

On 24 September 2020, the first twelve suppliers to sign up to this commitment with Tesco Ireland each published their food waste data for their own operations for the first time. To view the detail of each for each supplier, please see the documents below.

Also in September 2020, Greenfield Foods, Nature’s Best, and Birds Eye Ireland signed up to this commitment, and will now target, measure and act on food waste at their manufacturing sites and work collaboratively to adopt the UN Goal. Kerry Foods has also continued its efforts in this area, as part of their ongoing commitment.

For information on those signed up to this leading commitment with Tesco Group, see here.

Food Waste Management

We were the first retailer to partner nationally with FoodCloud in 2014, and through the donation of over 14 million meals we’ve saved over 18,900 tonnes of carbon from the waste process.

We are the only retailer in Ireland to publish independently-assured food waste data and we have successfully achieved zero food waste to landfill since 2009. 

In 2020, we introduced a new way to manage food waste from stores, backhauling it to a single point before sending it to anaerobic digestion with Irish company Green Generation. This process change means less trucks on the road collecting bins from stores, and an annual reduction of 250 tonnes of CO2.

As part of this partnership, we have also become the first Irish retailer to purchase renewable gas made from our own surplus food to power stores. 

Green Generation process any food surplus - which is not donated to our surplus food charity partner FoodCloud, or given free of charge to colleagues – and the outputs are fed into the gas network. We then purchase the renewable gas outputs via Naturgy, taking a circular economy approach to minimising our carbon footprint.