Surplus food & food waste disposal

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 the branch directly.

Best Before, Display Until and Use By Dates

We aim to donate as much food as possible to local charities and good causes, including food that has passed its Best Before dates. For legal reasons we cannot donate any food once it has passed the Use By date.

Cosmetic Standards

​In February 2016 we launched a new range of class two vegetables with 4 key crops - carrots, parsnips, onions and potatoes. The vegetables are named ‘a little less than perfect’ and have imperfections such as skin blemishes or splits, or are misshapen or broken. Price per kilo is less than our lowest essential Waitrose range, and is clearly marked with messages regarding food waste on the packaging. The range is available in 40 of our shops.

Waitrose has long supported our farmers, buying as much of their crop as possible. ​

We first introduced a range of weather blemished apples more than 9 years ago and if extreme weather such as hail affects a crop then we work with growers to try and get as much produce as possible to market.  In this way, we have sold weather blemished pears, apples, potatoes, green beans​, as well as​ an assorted pack of misshapen tomatoes​ and many other types of less-than-perfect fruit and vegetables.

​In the last year alone we have sold more than £1m of apples with weather blemished skin.​​

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.

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).