Tesco Ireland: Recycling two-thirds of operational waste

Company Description:
Tesco is Ireland’s leading food retailer serving over 1 million customers weekly from 107 stores throughout Ireland and employing over 13,000 people. We are committed to delivering low prices, value, choice, range and service. In addition, we are also proud supporters of the Irish food industry and last year alone Tesco bought €65 million worth of Irish food and drink exports, ranking Tesco ahead of France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and the USA.

Business Issue:
As part of the company’s Climate Change strategy, we committed to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill from our stores. This ambitious target meant that Tesco would become the first Irish retailer to recover and recycle 100% of operational waste. All tertiary cardboard and plastic is currently recycled but a solution was required to recover and manage additional waste streams.

Solution Applied:

  • Appointed new waste contractor, Veolia Environmental Services, to review and provide waste a management solution. They conducted a full audit of stores to measure and evaluate various waste streams and identify opportunities. Following a review and consultation, a waste strategy was developed along with a road map on how to achieve the target set.
  • Primary focus was on recycling food waste generated in both retail area of stores (out of date food product) and staff canteen.
  • Waste streams separated through dedicated colour coded bins.
  • Out-of-date food products are now recovered and recycled into animal feed, with food waste from canteen composted.
  • To minimise contamination, segregation bins are colour coded and clearly labelled.
  • Best Practice staff training material has been developed for each stream.
  • Linked promotional materials are also displayed on staff notice boards and canteen areas to continually raise awareness, promote the success of the programme and communicate new initiatives.
  • To monitor progress, periodic reports allow stores to track performance and identify compliance issues so corrective action can be taken immediately.

Company Benefits:

  • Cost effective solutions that realise significant annualised savings.
  • Partnering with one waste contractor to implement complete waste strategy programme.
  • Achieved recycling rate of 64 %, diverting 11,000 tonnes of waste from landfill.
  • On track to improve recycling rate from 64 % to 75% this year.

Stakeholder Benefits:
Increasing our operational recycling has reduced our rate of disposal going to landfill and the associated benefits from that. The programme has also raised awareness amongst our staff on the importance of recycling and how they can bring these associated learnings and behaviours into their homes. It also shows by example that the company is committed to managing its environmental impacts.

In order to ensure success and compliance, the scheme was rolled out on a phased basis and monitored closely to ensure best practice.

Practical simple solutions, staff training, monitoring and tracking are all key to changing behaviour and helping us towards our goal of ‘zero waste to landfill’.

Departments Involved:
Corporate Purchasing and Retail Operations.

Solution Champion:
Emer Warring, Purchasing Manager, emer.warring@tesco.ie