For our supermarkets the idea of zero waste to landfill is not new.

According to the Zero Waste Scotland website, Asda were working towards a target of zero waste to landfill by the end of 2010. In March 2010, Veolia Environmental Services had a two year extension to its existing contract with ASDA renewed, to help the food retailer achieve its aspiration of zero waste. It appears that by 2011 Asda had diverted over 94% of waste from operations away from from landfill, with no foodwaste going to landfill. Going forward, Asda will continue to work towards diverting 100% of waste from operations, and aiming for a 4% cut in household food and drink waste by 2013, working with competitors on the Courtauld 2 Commitments. Asda Service Centres are used to store waste from local depots, which cuts down road miles and makes it easier to recycle as much as possible.

The Co-operative planned to ensure no food waste from any of its 2,800 stores went to landfill by July 2013, halfing its food waste costs. The company plans to divert more than 34,000 tonnes of food waste from landfill. This means the Co-operative should meet its target to divert all food waste from landfill by the end of 2013. The Co-op has apparently cut waste it generates by 37 per cent since 2006, around 50,000 tonnes a year. Under the haul-back programme, waste is segregated at store level before being collected by the company’s logistics service and delivered to distribution depots. Waste food and flowers, which make up almost two-thirds of the bulk, are sent for anaerobic digestion to generate biogas and energy. Customer and general waste is directed to a facility that shreds and dehydrates solid waste to produce fuel. Dry mixed items, e.g. milk bottles, tins, cans, office paper, and till receipts, go to dedicated materials recycling facilities to sort and separate recyclables. Optimising stock holdings, using the latest packaging technology to increase shelf-life, and also providing more prominent storage instructions is designed to help customers reduce waste once it arrives in the home. The Co-operative says that the programme will half its food waste management bill, lop thousands of miles off the distribution network by ending more than 225,000 skip collections annually.

All well and good then? There’s probably more to do on post consumer waste, reducing unnecessary purchases and unnecessary packaging. Waste take back could be part of the mix.