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Addressing food waste has been a key area of focus for M&S for some time and we have been working really hard to reduce the amount of food surplus we create in the first place and ensuring that, where there is surplus, it gets put to the best possible use. 

We have been working with a range of food redistribution organisations, including Company Shop, FareShare, FoodCycle and neighbourly, to redistribute surplus food from the back of our stores to a wide range of charities that cook for those in need and are on the frontline of dealing with food poverty. Given the success of these schemes, we wanted to find a way to get to more charities by getting every store involved. So, over the last year, we have been running a number of trials in 45 stores across the country to establish the best model for getting our surplus food to those who need it whilst maintaining our visibility and traceability of these items. 

The outcome of these trials is that we have found a solution. Today we are launching a nationwide charitable redistribution scheme, working with neighbourly to provide an online platform that connects every store with existing and new local charity partners. Managing the nationwide scheme through a single platform removes some of the logistical barriers to redistribution, including ensuring that all those registered have the correct charity and food hygiene credentials in place.  We believe this will maximise the amount of food that can be redistributed and accelerate M&S towards its Plan A target of reducing food waste by 20% by 2020. 

As well as ensuring surplus food gets put to the best use, the neighbourly site will also play an important role in helping us reduce food surplus in the first place, as it will enable M&S to centrally monitor what products are resulting in surplus and how this can be reduced. We will also be the first major retailer to provide live updates on the number of tonnes of surplus food redistributed.  We are encouraging food charities keen to participate to e-mail food@neighbourly.com.



In addition to working to reduce surplus in stores, there is a lot going on behind the scenes with our suppliers to help them reduce waste through our Food Sustainability Programme. And we are starting to see great results come through -  over 50% of our suppliers are now zero waste to land fill and, since 2013, our suppliers have reduced food waste by over 250,000 tonnes. We also work closely with a range of partners such as Company Shop, with whom we have worked for over a decade, helping to ensure surplus stock does not go to waste from our depots and suppliers. Two years ago we strengthened our efforts and as a result suppliers have increased what they redistribute to Company Shop by 300% and, in the last 12 months, food suppliers have redistributed 768 tonnes 

Another key part of our plan to reduce food waste is helping our customers reduce waste at home. In the UK, almost half of our food waste is generated at in our homes – over 7 million tonnes. Each month, the average family throws away almost £60 of good food that was bought but not eaten. M&S continue to team up with Love Food Hate Waste to run initiatives to help consumers waste less food and save money.

For example, in August we ran an initiative in Manchester called Salad Days, an engagement event   aimed at offering simple solutions to consumers to get the most out of what they buy. Activities included our chef demonstrating how to rejuvenate your green salad leaves and creating tasty dressings from overripe fruit; using pedal power to get people to blend their own fruit smoothies as well as kids’ activities, recipe ideas and tips on how to waste less food.

Participants were encouraged to pledge to do one thing differently and they came up with some great ideas for us all to think about:

Freeze my bread and use it slice by slice as I need it
Make a shopping list and plan my meals ahead
Blend overripe tomatoes to make pasta sauce
Make banana bread from overripe bananas
Keep salad leaves in an airtight container

So will you take the advice of these Mancunians and reduce your food waste at home? Check out our video from the day to find out more.