Attempts to improve the way local large supermarkets work with our city council went from the laptop of Lib Dem councillor for Cotham, Anthony Negus, to being adopted nationally by Britain’s core cities (see here).
He escalated a personal initiative he started in late summer 2015, through a written survey and a select committee in spring 2016 under the auspices of the Bristol City Council Neighbourhoods Scrutiny commission, that he chairs. This was to develop greater cooperation between the Council and the ’big 8’ supermarkets in the areas of food waste, packaging and distribution. This showed a common interest in getting these things to work better with a mixed approach to how this might be achieved, particularly with regard to making better use of leftover food. He has developed one of those aspects - food waste - by visiting large local supermarkets in Clifton, Redland, Bishopston and Clifton Down, as well as in Cotham ward and talked to managers about improving their current forms of disposal. Chains vary in terms of local or national authority but, however tight their ordering and deliveries, a lot of such waste does go to biomass to produce energy. But this is not good enough. Clearly the amount of waste is best to be reduced at source, sold, then discounted but after that should be available to anyone who can make use of it.
Anthony has found that managers will consider redistribution if the process can work easily. He researched a sizeable number of collection and re-distribution organisations that are interested in extending their operations in Bristol. An encouraging number wanted to be involved in this project and contact details have been exchanged with the stores to sort out local arrangements to suit both parties. Stores have copied the information to others in their group. Anthony has had messages confirming that organisations are already working together. “Some redistributors that work in other parts of the country”, says Anthony, “have asked if I could get similar connections going elsewhere. I have contacted other LibDem councillors as local action like this is right up our street”. When this first phase has been appraised, it should be possible to push out a bit further. Some of the present teams create meals from saved ingredients so the next phase might include breakfast clubs, hopefully for some parents too.
This should not be seen as a solution to a fundamental issue, but this is a winning initiative that helps those in need while reducing waste of food that supermarkets require to be off their shelves. Anthony says “I have been greatly encouraged by the almost universal support I have received from the people who are going to make this work, hopefully in time across the whole city. I want to thank everyone who has helped in making this possible through the work done by their teams”. Result.