Surplus food & food waste disposal

Food waste


We want all our food to be eaten -​ ​whether that's by our customers, Partners (employees) or those in need. ​​We​ ​​work hard to predict how much food we will need; then we reduce prices as food nears its use by date.

Our ambition is for ​all ​our ​shops and depots to have an arrangement in place with a​ local organisation, such as a charity or social enterprise, ​to donate food before it goes past its use by date. While our shops are able to find a​ ​solution that suits the needs of the local community, not all of them have an arrangement in place yet, so if you're interested in collecting from us, please contact:

Best Before, Display Until and Use By Dates

We aim to donate as much food as possible, including food that has passed its Best Before/Display Until dates. For legal reasons, we cannot donate any food once it has passed the Use By date.

Anaerobic Digestion

Any unsold food which is not donated currently goes off to create electricity through anaerobic digestion, and this has been the case since 2012. Although this means that the food does not go to waste, we want to see all edible food being consumed.

Cosmetic Standards

Our priority is to buy and sell as much of our suppliers’ crop as possible. If a climate event affects a crop then we will work with our suppliers to ensure they can get as much of it as possible to market, e.g. this year we will be selling weather blemished pears for the first time. We have previously sold weather blemished apples and potatoes, as well as an assorted pack of misshapen tomatoes.

We have our own farm at Leckford, Hampshire, so we truly understand the issues facing farmers and we work in partnership with them to buy and sell as much of our growers’ crop​ as possible.  

We also do a great deal to minimise waste in our protein supply chain and any surplus that we can’t use ourselves is traded out into the market. However, we try to use as much as we can and this led to the introduction of our ‘Forgotten Cuts’ range. 

Helping you reduce food waste

As a signatory to the Courtauld Commitment, Waitrose is committed to tackling the challenge of food waste and has 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.

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 Help & Support centre.

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).