Swadlincote takes centre stage as Sainsbury’s

Last month MPs from across the country came together to learn from Swadlincote as Sainsbury’s and I hosted a Waste less, Save more event in Westminster. MPs who attended, including Parliamentary Under-Secretary at DEFRA, Thérèse Coffey MP, and Neil Parish MP, Chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, were keen to hear how our local town have come together in preventing food waste.

It was a pleasure to introduce the session and my colleague Thérèse Coffey MP who praised South Derbyshire for it’s work on this subject, and Sainsbury’s Head of Sustainability, Property, Engineering & Environment, Paul Crewe.

Exhibitors at the event included South Derbyshire District Council, who were able to showcase their Food Saver Champions – a team funded by a Waste less, Save more grant – who work in the community to promote the reduction of food waste. Whether attending local events such as the Swadlincote Food Festival, or targeting shoppers in the town centre, the team are able to engage with the public sharing food-saving tools and handy recipes. 

Elsewhere the council was also able to showcase ‘Fab Foods’, it’s school engagement programme, which has proven a real success in the town, cutting food waste in schools by up to 37%. The team brought with them work from the local Eureka Primary School, which was well received by politicians across the board, keen to see the steps being taken to educate younger audiences.

WRAP and Hubbub also attended the event alongside Olio and Winnow – two new technologies that have been trialled in Swadlincote in the fight against food waste. Designed for use in commercial kitchens, Winnow has been adapted for domestic use as part of Waste less, Save more. It works by weighing food waste in order to produce a report highlighting not only the financial value but the main reasons for it occurring, allowing users to recognise and address wasteful habits. Though currently being trialled on a small scale, the results have been promising with an average food waste reduction of 68%, which would save families an average of £268 a year. Meanwhile, Olio is an app which connects neighbours to facilitate food sharing within local communities. In Swadlincote alone the app has now helped redistribute 10,000 items.

I’m delighted to see such a strong turnout for the event, which is testament to the importance of the issue. The fact that Swadlincote and Sainsbury’s have worked together to trial initiatives means that we’ve taken out the first barrier for MPs, by offering tried and tested solutions. It was a delight to welcome along many representatives from Swadlincote to showcase their own experiences, and I hope that their learnings will help make an impact on the fight against food waste, as we spread the successes from Swadlincote nationwide.

The event comes shortly after the retailer announces the second phase of its Waste less, Save more strategy, announcing a £1 million fund available to towns and cities across the UK, as it leads the fight against food waste.

Launched in late 2015, Waste less, Save more is a five year strategy from Sainsbury’s to help its customers waste less food and save more money. Each year, homes throw away 7 million tonnes of food, costing families an estimated £12.5bn. Following a nationwide search, our town of Swadlincote was selected as a test-bed for activity, with Sainsbury’s trialling a wide range of new initiatives across a one year period. 

Trials taking place in the town include the Olio app which encourages food sharing amongst neighbours, and the ‘Fab Foods’ programme which has been designed to engage local schools. Elsewhere households are testing innovative technology such as smart fridges with internal cameras. By allowing residents to view contents via their smart phone, these fridges eliminate the risk doubling up during food shops, a practice which costs the UK £1.5 billion each year.

For more details on Waste less, Save More, visit: sainsburys.co.uk/waste.