Stephen Fendley, Waste Management

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Heading for an environmental goal.

Recycling 100% of food waste and a 5% year-on-year reduction for all other wastes going to landfill is a pretty ambitious target for any big organisation. But the East of England Co-op is well on the way to achieving this environmental goal. 

“Five years ago, we started trials of recycling food waste to anaerobic digestion,” explains Building and Environmental Compliance Manager Steve Fendley. “It worked very well and today 100% of our food waste is recycled. 

“When combined with our other recycling strategies this gives us an overall waste recycling figure of 78%. But it’s not good enough and we are committed to increasing it by 5% per year over the next three years.  

“We now work with the waste management company Olleco which specialises in resource recovery for the food industry. Through its anaerobic digestion processes all our food waste is converted into biogas to produce electricity. The residue from this process is used as an organic fertiliser.”

As well as the obvious waste separation for recycling at all Co-op locations, Steve and his environmental team also apply their creative approach to preventing waste. “Some short-dated stock, which we wouldn’t put out for sale as it’s approaching its best-before date, is donated to local charities including Emmaus, The Soup Kitchen and Dedham Community Farm.

“This ensures that as much as possible is put to good use rather than going to waste. We are looking to extend this and it’s all part of our commitment to waste reduction, re-use and recycling.”  

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