UK – Tesco, a British multinational groceries and general merchandise retailer, is joining forces with mobile app for food-sharing, Olio, in a bid to stop more surplus food from going to waste.

Instead, food that would have otherwise been discarded will be redistributed in local communities. The anti-food waste initiative is to be rolled out across Tesco stores.

The partnership with OLIO follows a successful six-month trial, which was held earlier this year at 250 Tesco stores that had the most food surplus and saw a high rate of pick up.

The food waste-fighting partnership builds on the supermarket’s existing food surplus donations program, including its Community Food Connection scheme with FareShare, which already sees it donate two million meals every month to food charities across the UK.

“Our partnership with Tesco means that more people than ever before will be able to benefit from access to surplus food,”

Tessa Clarke – Co-founder, Olio

The trial results in almost 195,000 portions of food being saved, almost 4,200 people being fed, and the equivalent of 93,000 meals being saved.

Shoppers downloading the app will be able to see food items nearing their expiry date available to be collected in their area for free, via non-contact pick-up.  

The food is taken back to their homes, with the items immediately uploaded onto the OLIO app, ready to be re-distributed free to those living nearby as well as to community groups.

“Our partnership with Tesco means that more people than ever before will be able to benefit from access to surplus food,” adds Olio Co-founder, Tessa Clarke. “They’ll also be joining our community of neighbors who not only support one another but also believe that every little counts in the fight against food waste.”

The scheme works with the help of OLIO’s 8,000 local volunteers, “Food Waste Heroes”, who visit Tesco stores to collect surplus food nearing its sell-by date. 

OLIO app users can then pick items up, from an agreed, contact-free collection point and – because of social-distancing measures needed right now – food items can be left in a front garden or wall outside someone’s house.

“Right now we want to make sure that any surplus food is being managed and people who need it have access to it,” says Tesco Head of Communities, Claire De Silva. “The results of our initial trial were very positive and have allowed us to further roll out the partnership in our commitment to make sure no good food goes to waste.”

In return for their efforts, “Food Waste Heroes” are allowed to keep 10 percent of what they collect from stores if they would like. OLIO is registered with the Food Standards Agency, which ensures that all food collected is safe for human consumption.

Tackling food waste has been a major part of Tesco’s sustainability strategy since 2009 when it committed to stop sending food products to landfill.

In 2016, Tesco launched the UK’s biggest food redistribution scheme, Community Food Connection (CFC), through which surplus food from Tesco stores is donated daily to local charities and community groups. 

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