Tesco Gets Rid of Garbage: Zero Waste Goes to Landfill in UK

Tesco Gets Rid of Garbage: Zero Waste Goes to Landfill in UK

The United Kingdom's largest retailer says 100 percent of its waste from stores, offices and distribution centers across the country are now diverted from landfill -- the result of aggressive recycling and treatment programs that include turning as much as 5,000 tonnes of old meat into heat and electricity each year.
Tesco announced last week that it had achieved the milestone in its environmental agenda ahead of schedule. In 2006, the company pledged that 100 percent of its waste would be diverted from landfill by 2010. The company's commitment was voluntary. Although local governments have been asked to reduce waste sent to landfill 45 percent by 2020 based on 2000 levels, no requirement was set for commercial businesses.

Tesco operates 2,315 stores in the U.K., along with distribution centers and offices. Together, they generate 531,000 tonnes of waste a year.

Three-hundred-eighty-five thousand tonnes are recycled. For example, shopping bags are recycled into garbage bags and old cardboard boxes are made into new cardboard boxes.

The remaining 146,000 tonnes are diverted via material recovery facilities, in-vessel composting, anaerobic digestion, mechanical biological treatment, mechanical heat treatment or energy generation from waste.

Out-of-date meat is sent to biomass-to-energy plants. An estimated 5,000 tonnes of meat that would otherwise go in the waste heap each year is converted into 2,500 mWh of renewable energy, according to Tesco, which says that's enough to power about 600 homes for a year.

The news about Tesco's meat-to-heat practices outraged the animal rights group Vegetarians International Voice for Animals, which sent a statement protesting the practice to U.K. news outlets. The group Viva contends vegetarians would be appalled to learn that their dwellings are being heated with power generated from meat.

Store — Image courtesy of Tesco.
Pile of Steak - Image by koosswans.