"Waste not, want not,” was a guiding principle of our grandparents’ generation, but it’s never been more relevant today. In a world of diminishing resources, retailers have a responsibility not only to trade sustainably, but also to help our customers to live sustainably too.
Forgive the pun, but a lot of rubbish has been said in the past few weeks about food industry waste. The UK leads the world in ensuring that there is as little waste as possible in food supply chains. Comparing the UK’s food waste to other, less efficient countries is misleading — we waste less and get more out of our supply chain. We shouldn’t be penalised for that.
Retailers hate waste — it doesn’t make sense when you’re running a supermarket. Eliminating wasted food is the key to a good supply chain, not because of government incentives but because it’s good business, good for our customers budgets, good for keeping our costs down,and good for communities.
This approach helped Sainsbury’s to stop sending any food waste to landfill in 2010 (and we extended this to all types of waste last year).
But most food waste occurs at home and we are helping customers to waste less there too. We help them to make their shopping go further through campaigns such as Love Your Leftovers (complete with free Tupperware) and now Sainsbury's Food Rescue, which devises recipes based on what they tell us is lurking at the back of their fridge.
Like us, our customers hate waste. So we’re working hard to ensure that we all live well but waste less.
Justin King is CEO of Sainsbury's. This op ed first appeard in The Times on 13 June 2014, titled 'We are fighting waste in our stores and in your homes'