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Everyone loves Christmas food and the tasty leftovers but, after a few days, many people, my family included, are looking for a change from cold turkey and Christmas pudding. So how do we avoid it ending up in the bin and generate enthusiasm for embracing our freezers and extending the life of our festive food?  Hubbub and Marks & Spencer have been working together to answer that question and today we are launching the #FestiveFreeze campaign.

Our aim is to dispel some freezing myths, signpost you to helpful advice and inspire you with lots of creative recipes, helping you save money, waste less and make your life easier for 2015. Freezing isn’t new, our ancient ancestors used freezing temperatures to preserve foods. In fact the Romans built the first ice houses in the UK to store ice and food on ice. Over the years, the ‘icehouse’ be came an ‘icebox’ but it wasn’t until 1854 that the first commercial ice-making machine was invented and not until 1940 that domestic freezers able to fit more than an ice cube tray were introduced. So freezing has been around a long time so why don’t we use it more? 

The #FestiveFreeze survey highlights some of the key reasons and features brilliant recipe ideas to help you put those leftovers to good use.  

At M&S, we’re working hard to reduce food waste by focussing on minimising waste in the first place, maximising redistribution/recycling opportunities and sending zero waste to landfill. To minimise waste in our own business, we have invested in more efficient systems for ordering and improving stock accuracy, as well as innovations in food and packaging technology to extend product quality and storage life, reduce packaging weight and increase recyclability. Our stores have focused on improving stock management, efficiently discounting short life products and better waste management. Since May 2014, we have been trialling food redistribution from back of store with Company and Community Shop (see blog), which has shown that 40% of the remaining unused food can be donated to schemes like this. 

We recognise that we need to work with partners across the retail, packaging and recycling industry to achieve a significant impact on food waste levels. We have done a lot of consumer engagement to encourage our customers to ‘love food hate waste’and we were founding members of the WRAP campaign in 2007, and have worked with them on numerous events aimed at changing consumer behaviour. We have invested and worked closely with Kent and Somerset County Councils on initiatives like developing an interactive food wheel that uses simple graphics to explain the best way to store everything from mature Cheddar to new potatoes.  We have also worked with them to improve curb side recycling and availability of recycled materials for our packaging. Where we do have surplus food, we want it to go to the best possible use and  we have worked in partnership with organisations like Fareshare and Company Shop for over 15 years, and more recently with organisations like Food Cycle and Community Shop to raise awareness and redistribute surplus from suppliers, depots and stores. We are also working hard with our suppliers to prevent food surplus occurring - 40% of our food volume comes from sites that send zero waste to landfill, and in the last 12 months, working with our partners, suppliers have substantially increased redistribution by 300% (increase on 2012/13).  

We still have more to do to ensure no good food goes to waste and we have a lot planned for 2015. To kick off the New Year, we’re encouraging our customers to do their bit by getting behind the #FestiveFreeze campaign.