Planet Organic claims to have become the first UK retailer to achieve zero edible food waste, by giving its leftovers away to communities in need.
The organic supermarket, which has seven stores across London, no longer bins the food that it doesn’t sell, but arranges for volunteers to collect and redistribute via a food-sharing app called Olio.
The partnership started in November 2017 and, in little over a year, has seen more than 55,188 portions of food – or 11 tonnes – diverted away from landfill. This has been used to provide 26,280 meals.
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Olio is a food-sharing app that connects businesses looking to get rid of unsold produce with a network of 3,000 volunteers through its ‘food waste heroes’ programme. Once the volunteers and businesses have made contact, they arrange a specific time to pick up the food from a store and take it out to local communities.
Amran Ali, who volunteers for Olio, has been picking up food from the Devonshire Square and Essex Road branches of Planet Organic for seven months: “I have shared my collections with over 100 people in my local area – struggling single parents, the elderly, the disabled, the hungry and vulnerable have all benefited from the surplus food,” he says.
“I believe it’s important to do what we can for others in need, and as a bonus we’re helping the planet too.”
With more Planet Organic stores due to open this year, CEO Peter Marsh says it was time for the chain to address the waste issue.
“We work our socks off to minimise food waste in the first instance, but what with selling a speciality range of fresh foods, and serving 10,000 meals each week, we do inevitably have some waste,” he says.
“We spent years scouring the market for a professional partner with the necessary food handling processes to redistribute this unavoidable waste, and Olio were the first we came across that had the necessary capabilities.”
The ‘food waste heroes’ programme started in 2016. Olio has also partnered with Pret A Manger and Co-op, as well as independent cafes, bakeries, and events and offices.