Retailers propose waste minimisation measures

Retailer Co-op and restaurant chain Burger King have taken steps which aim to reduce the production of waste.

The restaurant chain will trial reusable containers at some branches

The Co-op announced plans to scrap use-by dates on its own-brand yoghurt range and Burger King is to trial a range of reusable packaging for its burgers and sides.

Food waste

Co-op’s move will see the use-by dates replaced with best-before labels in a bid to tackle unnecessary food waste, starting in May 2022.

The retailer’s action comes against the background of research by resources charity WRAP. This found that about 42,000 tonnes of edible yoghurt are thrown away annually. The data noted that “70% of the all the yoghurt wasted was due to yoghurts ‘not being used in time’, with the date label cited as the reason.”

The Co-op reported that testing showed the main change found past the expiration date is around quality, and the product is still safe to consume. The guidance aims to encourage shoppers to use visual cues instead of relying on the date mark when deciding whether to consume.

Nick Cornwell, Co-op’s head of food technical, pointed out that if stored unopened in the fridge, yoghurt can be safe to eat after the date mark shown.

“The acidity of yoghurt acts as a natural defence and we’d encourage shoppers to use their judgement on the quality of their yoghurt if it is past the best before date,” he explained, adding that controlling food waste has both a financial and environmental benefit.

Burger King

In a bid to reduce single-use packaging waste, Burger King is to roll out a small trial for reusable packaging for its food and drinks. It will begin across five restaurants in Ipswich and Newmarket, running from 26 April to 5 September. It will run in partnership with reuse platform Loop, which is owned by Terracycle.

The scheme will give customers the option to pay a £1 deposit for a re-usable cup or container instead of using throwaway packaging.
Customers can return the reusable containers by downloading the Loop app, scanning the barcode on the container, and returning it into a Loop bin. Loop bins will be placed outside the restaurants where the trials are taking place as well as in other locations found via the Loop app. They will then be refunded the deposit.

All returned packaging will be professionally cleaned and sanitised before being put back into the cycle, said Terracycle.

Nicola Pierce from Burger King said: “We’re excited to see how the trial performs over the next five months and help us reach our goal of eliminating single-use plastic within our restaurants by 2025.”

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