UK supermarket sets zero-waste goal

By Susanne Retka Schill
Web exclusive posted Jan. 30, 2009, at 10:59 a.m. CST

Sainsbury, a United Kingdom supermarket chain, is launching a zero food waste initiative starting in Scotland. Sainsbury's 28 Scotland stores will begin diverting approximately 42 tons of food waste per week from the landfill to be made into biofuel and electricity.

In making the announcement at the Zero Waste Conference on Jan. 21 in Edinburgh, Scotland, Alison Austin, Sainsbury's environment manager, said each ton diverted from the landfill will generate enough power for 500 homes and save 3 tons of carbon dioxide compared to fossil fuels. "Scotland is at the forefront of our wider U.K. plan to completely cut out dependence on landfill," Austin said. "This is the first step in a plan that will see Sainsbury's stop using landfill for food waste by this summer and stop using landfill completely by the end of the year."

Sainsbury is working with PDM Group, a food waste recycling and rendering company. PDM has a network of biomass combustion plants and a planned network of anaerobic digesters. The first digester at the company's headquarters in Doncaster, U.K., is expected to be operational in 2009 generating 2 megawatts of renewable energy. The company collects unsold or unusable food products, such as animal by-products, from most of the U.K.'s major retail chains which are recycled to produce biofuels or generate electricity.