Waste Not, Want Not: Retailers Collaborate With Food Initiative To Tackle $26 Billion Problem

A small town in the North East of England is home to a trailblazing charity finding effective ways to tackle food waste whilst addressing food-poverty.

The Bread and Butter Thing is a sustainable food initiative in Darlington, near Middlesborough and is on track to deliver its one millionth meal by the end of this year.

The charity has been awarded the Queens Award for Voluntary Service with over 200 volunteers enabling the project to operate successfully each week.

Working with local and national partners, The Bread and Butter Thing model is to redistribute food & everyday essentials at a fraction of their recommended retail price. This initiative helps to drive down food waste, and supports many to withstand the cost of living and to subscribe to healthier eating. The food distributed by the charity is usually a result of overproduction, food imperfections or damaged packaging.

The UK has a significant issue with food wastage. Figures from waste and resources charity WRAP claim that the annual food waste within UK (including households, hospitality and food service, food manufacture, retail and wholesale sectors) in 2018 was estimated at around 9.5 million tonnes with a value of £19 billion a year. WRAP also reports that 60% of the wasted food is still edible.

WM Morrisons is the fourth largest supermarket chain in the UK and works with the project to drive change towards a reduction in food waste.

“We have worked with the team from The Bread and Butter Thing since 2016. They are always informative and willing to help develop redistribution streams of work, whether through their own redistribution network or elsewhere. Together we have developed our thinking and found new opportunities to find a home for food that might otherwise go to waste”, explains Steve Butts, Corporate Responsibility and Code Compliance at Wm Morrisons Supermarkets PLC.

The Bread and Butter Thing offers food bags with approximately £35 worth of food are sold for £7.50 to the general public.

Deputy Council Leader, Jonathan Dulson believes the initiative has made a difference both locally & nationally: “What the project is designed to do is to save food with the big retailers that would ordinarily be their food waste and bring it into a network and distribute it within the community, It’s all quality assurance checked – it’s not bad food, it is absolutely consumable and still of an exceptionally high quality. We’re encouraging people from across the town to take part.”


The charity has also initiated work with Morrisons to support members by becoming a distribution partner of donated sanitary products. Working with the retailer and Procter & Gamble Co ‘Always’ brand on the campaign to ‘End Period Poverty’ the programme has shared over one million period products to date.

Dulson highights that the work of the charity is also focussed on education and removing stigma as well as making lasting change to the food product lifecycle:

“It’s getting people to rethink the way that they shop and be more socially responsible and if they can help the climate by thinking differently about how they purchase shopping, that can only be a good thing.”

The Tycoon Herald