Saving food, cutting waste

We live in a society where too much food ends up in the bin

Research shows UK households currently throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink every year, costing £12.5 billion. That's a lot. But there’s so much we can do to reduce it. You can start today by following some of the tips on this page about shopping smarter and planning menus more carefully.

You can also find out how we’re trying to get our stock levels right and, when food is no longer wanted, making sure it goes to the people who need it most. Let’s tackle this together.

At home

There are three biggest causes of food waste… buying too much, not storing it properly and cooking too much. So in a nutshell, to cut waste at home we need to buy what you need, eat what you buy and store it correctly at home.

We have been supporting WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign since it started in 2007. WRAP's research shows waste totalling £12.5 billion a year in the UK, a figure that tells us there’s much more work to do.

From menu planning, to portion tips and leftover recipe ideas, visit Love Food Hate Waste for more information.

Here are some top tips for you to get started.

Shop Smart

Your shopping list can help to save the planet

Make time to plan your shop, so you’re kinder on your pocket and the planet. Here are some top tips to get started:

  • Keep a pad and pen in the kitchen, or set up a list on your smartphone – throughout the week, when you’ve got through the last of a particular foodstuff, add it to your list.

  • Spend a few minutes before your shop to think about what meals want to eat, to give you focus and cut the list down.

  • Think about buying foods that can be used for several different dishes, like vegetables, mince, cans of tomatoes, and salads for flexibility.

  • Do a quick check in your fridge and cupboards once a week so you know what’s about to run out or needs using up.

  • On the day of your shop, take a photo of your fridge as you leave home so you have a quick reference to see what's already in there as you tackle the aisles.

Surprising foods you can freeze

In store and the community

Partnering with FareShare

We work hard to make sure our stock levels are correct to minimise food waste. It's always going to be a challenge, but we’re constantly looking at ways to cut waste even further.

We also work closely with our suppliers to collaborate on waste reduction projects in the supply chain.

Through our depot network, we redistribute food to vulnerable people though a partnership with Fareshare.

Since 2013, we have supplied almost 1,300 tonnes of food through Fareshare- enough to provide over 3,085,000 meals to those in need – by redistributing surplus food through our UK-wide network of nine depots.

Meat, fruit, vegetables, ready meals and chilled items are all passed to FareShare who then allocate it to local charities and community groups so they can provide balanced and nutritious meals.

Over 1,135 charities and community groups received Co-op food through FareShare in 2017. They included chidrens’ breakfast and after school clubs, youth centres, hostels and supported housing for people suffering from homelessness, community cafes, older people’s services to tackle social isolation, food banks, and family and children’s centres.

Our Food Share initiative

As well as our depots, our new, national food redistribution programme Food Share enables our stores to donate good quality food directly to local community groups.

Find out more here.

On our packs

We’ve done a lot of work on our packs in store to help you to save more food from waste at home. Look out for these top tips in your local Co-op:

  • Our salads have a story – look out for a message on pack which explains why making the most of them and not throwing them out is the best choice.
  • Storage tips – Look out for hand tips on how to best store our products when you get them home. We even include freeze at home messaging.
  • Eat well waste less - Working with WRAP, we’ve added key tips and messages to our biggest product categories to help to make the most of products.
  • Protecting our produce – We have top waste-less tips on most of our produce, and also have messaging on our produce bags to help you to store your fruit and veg in the best way to keep them fresh for longer.
  • Bread freezing - Bread is one of the top 10 most wasted food categories and we provide home freezing and top tips on 40 bread and morning good lines, covering sliced loaves, pittas, crumpets, croissants, pancakes and muffins.
  • Watching portions – serving too much means that some food and drinks can be wasted through leftovers. We have portion measures on our chilled juices, pasta and rice to act as a guide.
  • Split packs – We’ve started to introduce split packs on pate and cooked meats, so you can enjoy a little of what you want without opening a full packet.

Get Inspired - Tasty recipes for leftovers

Make the most of your leftovers and try some delicious recipe ideas with leftover food. Visit Love Food Hate Waste to browse recipes, or search by whatever ingredient you have leftover for ideas.