Three men are being charged – the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has said it sees “significant public interest” in proceeding – accused of taking stealing tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese and Mr Kipling cakes from a supermarket’s bins. Police say they retrieved and “returned” the items to the store. That is to say they ensured what was undoubtedly perfectly good food went into (at best) composting or anaerobic digestion, but quite likely into landfill.
You do have to wonder if there’s a campaigner in the CPS who thinks it is time to put the entire supermarket model of food distribution on trial.
Recently, Tesco admitted that more than 30 per cent of bagged salad is wasted in store, and 40 per cent of apples. In total in the first six months of last year, 28,500 tonnes of food waste were generated in its stores and distribution centres. No doubt the other giant oligopolists that dominate our food chains are similar.
The fact that ‘dumpster diving’/‘skipping’/‘bin raiding’ is a new phenomenon is clear from the absence of a settled name – but it’s clear that it the practice is spreading fast. That’s a product of the rising desperation in our society that has seen foodbanks become one of our fastest growing industries, as I saw for myself last week on a visit to one in prosperous Winchester.
We hardly need a reminder of how wasteful the supermarket model is. It’s based on the principle that every item will be in stock all of the time, and will be shipped back and forth across the country, or the globe, from grower to packager to warehouse to store. Inevitably, enormous quantities go to waste. Continue reading