Retail Sustainability: Mitigating food waste

Retailers all around the world are waging war against food waste. Become a sustainable retailer through innovative composting techniques, labelling techniques, redistribution, and data-driven solutions.

Retailers worldwide are fighting the good fight against food waste with new labelling strategies, advanced coatings, redistribution, and data-driven solutions. With multi-pronged efforts to eliminate wastage throughout the supply chain, from farm to factory to fork, governments and the business community have mobilised in recent years to ensure that the approximately 50% of the food we waste each year gets put to use. There are countless ways to approach the issue.

The Food Waste Index and Sustainable Development Goal 12.3

By 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the UN want to reduce food waste by half. In March 2021, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) released the Food Waste Index 2021 report, which estimates global food waste and outlines a standard measurement and reporting methodology for food waste in accordance with SDG target 12.3.

The Food Waste Index identifies the scope of food waste and shows that it is more than twice as large as previously estimated levels. One billion tons of food are wasted each year in the retail and consumer sectors, the survey claims. This food waste affects biodiversity, land, and water resources, costing governments, businesses, and families close to a trillion US dollars annually. It also contributes 8–10% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Food waste is defined by the Food Waste Index to comprise both foods intended for human consumption and any accompanying edible portions. A crucial first step in reducing food waste is accurate, traceable, and comparable measurement. There are still some data gaps, with the percentage of inedible portions being the most significant. Stakeholders can better grasp the issue and develop solutions if they know how edible and non-edible portions of food waste are divided in a given industry. As national food waste prevention measures are developed, estimates will be strengthened by measuring food waste at the retail and food service levels.

Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash

Retail Sustainability and Food waste mitigation: The case of SPAR South Africa

Approximately 31 million tonnes of food are produced in SA each year. An astounding 10 million tonnes of that becomes food waste are produced each year. That makes up a third of all food produced. Despite the fact that South Africa has some of the world’s most stringent waste management laws, there’s still a lack of facilities or resources necessary to address this growing issue. 

In truth, their landfills are on the verge of reaching critical mass, and as a result, they present their own hazards and problems concerning sustainability. However, one of the largest retail chains and one of the sustainable retail stores in the country, SPAR, has decided to deal differently with food waste. On top of the regular SPAR specials to sell off goods quickly whilst they’re still fresh, especially perishables, they’ve introduced BiobiN.

Let’s discuss BiobiN in more detail.

What is BiobiN?

A unit for capture, confinement, and processing on site. It was created to compost wet waste and food sustainably. It starts the organic material’s composting process and lessens odours, bacteria, and other pathogens.

How does it help?

It lessens the amount of food and organic waste dumped in landfills. It also lowers greenhouse gas emissions, thus helping SPAR in reducing its carbon footprint.

What goes into the BiobiN?

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Food scraps
  • Flowers, herbs and plants
  • Meat scraps, eggs, cheese, yoghurt
  • Peels
  • Contaminated food
  • Coffee grounds and tea bags
  • Bread, cakes and biscuits
  • Tissue, paper towels and shredded paper

How does it function?

With the BiobiN, neither chemicals nor bacteria are required. It begins composting by forcing air into the mixture with wood chips or sawdust. A built-in biofilter eliminates the odours, and a condenser eliminates the wetness. 

What happens to the compost?

The whole process of turning food waste into compost takes about 6 weeks. The compost is then applied to farms, gardens, soccer fields, and other similar spaces. 

Photo by Seth Cottle on Unsplash


Become a sustainable retailer by eliminating food and other waste responsibly. SPAR has offered a solution that can be replicated the world over. The more responsible you are by going green and doing your part to reduce landfills, the more your customers will care about your brand, as retailer sustainability is a critical consideration in today’s purchase decisions. 

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