The Midlands Co-operative Society is claiming an industry first by diverting all food waste and packaging at its 172 food stores from landfill.
The retailer piloted a landfill-free total waste solution at six Midlands Co-operative stores in April 2010, using an industrial anaerobic digestion plant in Northamptonshire.
The trial was extended to 30 stores in October 2010 and 60 in November 2010, shortly followed by the entire food retail estate.
The zero waste to landfill target was delivered in all food stores without increasing waste collection costs to the business, the Midlands Co-operative said.
The anaerobic digestion plant, operated by BiogenGreenfinch, uses food waste to produce methane and in turn renewable electricity for the national grid. The process also produces a biofertiliser for farmland. The anaerobic digestion plant produces enough renewable electricity to power over 3,000 homes continually for a year.
Michael Spencer, head of retail trading at the Midlands Co-operative Society, said: “From 6 June the Society was proud to announce none of its 172 food stores will be sending any food waste or packaging to landfill.
“To be able to make such a claim is very exciting for the Society. Not only are the benefits obvious for the environment with 9m litres of waste being diverted from landfill over the course of a year the switch has proved to be even better than cost neutral to the business and provides the Society with a reduced carbon footprint as the impact on vehicles visiting the stores has been halved.”
Simon Musther, head of commercial operations, for BiogenGreenfinch, said: “Our partnership with Midlands Co-operative has allowed us to support them in achieving their objectives of avoiding landfill disposal and our own targets of producing increasing amounts of renewable energy.”