Food waste

A wooden spoon with some salad leaves and dressing


Reducing food waste

In 2012 ,Waitrose achieved it's aim to divert all food waste from landfill. Unavoidable food waste that is not fit for consumption is processed by anaerobic digestion to generate energy. Waitrose was the first national retailer to use anaerobic digestion as a viable solution for food waste. Surplus food that is fit for consumption is donated to local charities.. 

Charities wishing to benefit from the donations programme should contact their local branch in the first instance.

Each year, we throw away 4.2 million tonnes of food and drink in the UK. This costs each British household with children around £680 a year or up to £50 a month. Recent research by the Waste Resources and Action programme (WRAP) has shown that around a half of this food could have been eaten. The main reasons for this wastage appear to be we either cook or prepare too much, or we forget food and let it go off.

The majority of our food waste, like other household waste, ends up in landfill sites. But, with space expected to run out within the next 10 years, something has to be done now to reduce the waste we dispose of in this way. This waste also impacts our climate - as rubbish decays in landfill sites it produces methane, a greenhouse gas judged to have 20 times more impact on climate change than CO2.

"We're passionate about protecting the environment - and so are our customers. We are constantly working across our business to minimise our environmental impact - for example cutting packaging by over a third in the last six years relative to sales”, Mark Price, Waitrose Managing Director


As a signatory to the Courtauld Commitment, Waitrose is committed to tackling the challenge of food waste and has recently signed up to support delivery of a new WRAP target to reduce the amount of food wasted in UK homes. As part of this commitment, we are actively supporting WRAP’s consumer campaign ‘Love Food, Hate Waste’ (this link opens in a new window) by helping to raise awareness of the issue of food waste and providing practical information in store and online to help our Partners and customers reduce the amount of food they waste.

Waste not, want not

Here are just some of the ways Waitrose is already helping customers to get the most from the food that they buy, whilst reducing food wastage:

Clear on-pack information

In addition to information on food nutritional content, we provide clear guidance on the preparation, cooking and storage of the own-label food products we sell. This helps to ensure our customers make the most of the products they buy and enjoy them at their best.

We have recently reviewed all our back-of-pack labelling and have created new messaging designed to reduce duplication and give maximum legibility to this important information. This, we hope, will help customers to consistently locate the information most important to them.

Understanding date labels

We have given greater prominence and enhanced legibility to on pack date codes (eg ‘use by’, ‘best before’), to help our customers easily identify this information and assist our shop Partners with stock rotation. Our customers can also seek advice on specific products, including best consumption date information, through our Customer Careline


Portion control

Where possible, we indicate on pack a recommended serving size, as well as the total number of servings per pack. On some of our own-label packs we have also incorporated a measuring gauge to help customers more easily visualise portion size.

Functional packaging

During new product development, we constantly challenge our packaging solutions to ensure they are fit-for-purpose and ensure maximum shelf life without compromising product quality and safety. We endeavour not to add any packaging to a product other than that which is absolutely required. We also look for opportunities to provide and promote longer-term packaging solutions to food waste, for example by using reusable, resealable, or recloseable packaging.

Top tips on reducing food waste

1. Think before you shop - more than a third of us go shopping without a list.*

  • Check what you have at home before you shop.
  • Make a list - it saves time and money.
  • Shop with meals in mind - you’ll end up throwing less away.

2. Use or lose your food - 60% of us end up throwing away food because it’s passed its ‘use-by’ date.*

  • Plan your meals with the ‘use-by’ date in mind - it will save you money.
  • Know your fridge - keep an eye on what’s inside. Be mindful of the perishable food you have and plan meals to fit in with their ‘use-by’ dates. This will prevent unnecessary waste.

3. Befriend your fridge - 70% of our fridges are set at too high a temperature.*

  • Store food according to the instructions on pack - leaving food out of the fridge can cut the life of foods like milk, cooked meats and salad by up to 100%.
  • Keep your fridge between 1-5°C - this helps you get the best from your food. If your fridge doesn’t indicate actual temperature, think about investing in a fridge thermometer.

4. Love your leftovers - more than half of households say they throw away food because they’ve cooked too much.*

5. Feed your garden - on average over 70% of household waste is landfilled each year. Composting reduces the amount of rubbish you put out for collection and creates a free, nutritious fertiliser that will help make your garden more beautiful.

  • Compost your kitchen and garden waste. Everything from uncooked vegetable scraps to fruit peelings, teabags, coffee grounds, eggshells and small amounts of paper and soft cardboard can be home composted.
  • Many councils sell home composters, often at a reduced cost. You can also buy compost bins from local garden centres and DIY stores. Visit Recycle Now or Recycle More (these links open in new windows) for more information on home composting.

* Source of statistics: WRAP (they’ve in turn sourced the info from DEFRA, WHO and Waste Not, Want Not)

For more information on packaging reduction, waste and recycling at Waitrose and John Lewis visit the John Lewis Partnership (this link opens in a new window).