Last week J Sainsbury announced that it plans to install combined heat and power (CHP) units in six more of its stores across the UK, bringing the national total up to 16. It is not yet known if any of these are in Sussex, but the strategy is one that appears set to continue and presumably in time there will be some stores in Sussex with CHP units. These units enable the stores concerned to produce heat and electrical power from gas generated by anaerobic digestion which relies on food waste from two of the Companies depots. What is vital is that the Company maintains its commitment to only treating non-edible food in this way. The company continues to promote their commitment to the hierarchy of waste with all surplus food that is still edible discounted and sold to customers, redistributed to charity partners such as FareShare Sussex and sent to local farmers for use in animal feed.
The formation of FareShare Sussex which I was personally involved in, owes its origins to a discussion with the Manager of the Sainsbury store that was originally situated on the London Road, next to the Hobgoblin Public House. David Moore and his staff team were deeply unhappy with the idea of any edible food going un-eaten and he wanted a solution that would ensure that all food that could not be sold would nevertheless be eaten. He had tried on many occasions to interest projects which provided meals for Homeless people with his unsold food. Unfortunately he was not able to give them any notice and they did not have vehicles or storage facilities waiting to be filled on the off chance. When we created FareShare in 2002 David’s store was the first to sign up as a donor. In that first year we collected 30 tonnes of food, last year the charity redistributed nearly 500 tonnes of food to charities across Sussex. All of the food is distributed with the help of volunteers and the cost of running the service has to be met, either from donations or administration fees charged to the charities that do receive regular supplies of food. However the charity helps to dramatically reduce the amount of food going into landfill, or finding its way into anaerobic digestion. The website for the charity can be found here.