SOUTH AFRICA – Pick n Pay, a prominent South African supermarket chain, has taken a significant step in its commitment to reducing food waste by launching its inaugural zero-waste supermarket pilot in Cape Town.

The pilot program is aimed to revolve around a net-zero waste model designed to divert food waste away from landfills and towards more sustainable destinations, including local farmers, composting facilities, and waste-to-energy plants.

The zero-waste concept will be implemented at Pick n Pay Stellenbosch Square, where the supermarket has partnered with Farmer Angus, one of its suppliers.

This partnership will allow for approximately 600 kilograms of food waste to be diverted from landfills each week.

Beyond the environmental benefits, the initiative aims to yield significant carbon emissions savings, equating to 1,500 kilograms of emissions per week.

Steffen Burrows, the Sustainability Manager at Pick n Pay, highlighted that this model will play a crucial role in mitigating the harmful environmental consequences associated with traditional waste disposal practices while creating a cycle that supports local agriculture.

“Food waste is a significant contributor to carbon emissions. The partnership with Farmer Angus will see the nearby store’s expired food waste diverted from landfills to Farmer Angus’s pigs, effectively turning waste into a valuable resource for farmers,”  Burrows said.

Additionally, he noted that the initiative represented a substantial step in Pick n Pay’s participation in the circular economy.

“Organic waste is being repurposed as animal feed, effectively closing the loop on waste generation and consumption, with the added advantage of the supermarket stocking Farmer Angus’ products on its shelves.”

On the other hand, Angus McIntosh, the owner of Farmer Angus, highlighted the positive impact of the initiative, noting the far-reaching environmental benefits of diverting expired food from landfills, particularly in preventing the release of methane.

According to Burrows, the broader significance of the pilot initiative goes beyond carbon footprint reduction.

“This marks a new era of conscious consumerism, environmental stewardship, and community collaboration. By partnering with Farmer Angus on this pilot, we are aligning our efforts to magnify the positive impact we can make on the environment.”

Notably, at Pick n Pay Stellenbosch Square, staff will segregate food and organic waste from general waste and recyclables.

All food, except pork products, not suitable for human consumption will be placed into separate bins, de-packaged in the waste service area, and then sent to Farmer Angus. For pork products, the retailer is exploring a composting solution as part of the pilot.

Burrows concluded that this pilot program will serve as a blueprint for future sustainability initiatives across Pick n Pay stores and beyond.

He noted that the initiative is integral to the Pick n Pay Group’s overarching commitment to reduce food waste and minimize its environmental impact.

Meanwhile, the retailer has set an ambitious target of reducing food waste across its organization by 50% by 2030.