Spanish co-operative retailer championing Zero Waste

18 Feb 2015

Eroski, a worker-consumer co-operative with nearly 1,000 outlets across Spain has been pioneering a scheme to reduce food waste. Throughout 2014 Eroski has donated 2,105 tones of food to people in need as part of its Zero Waste programme.

The retailer is the distribution division of Mondragon Co-operative Corporation, the largest worker co-operative in the world. Last year Eroski has worked with 48 socially responsible organisations from 17 autonomous communities across Spain to tackle food waste in its shops.

“Solidarity is part of our co-operative identity that is where our concern for food waste comes from. We were the first within the retail sector to achieve zero waste across all of our supermarkets and hypermarkets in December 2013 and since then we have maintained this commitment to society,” said Alejandro Martínez Berriochoa, director of social responsibility at Eroski.

All food donated is inspected to make sure it is in perfect condition for consumption. In the case of fresh foods, it ensures that the cold chain is properly maintained, including within the organisation receiving the donation, which has the obligation to ensure the food is maintained at the same high standard. The food donated is within the use-by or best-by date.

To encourage consumers to tackle food waste, in 2014 Eroski has run an awareness raising campaign. The retailer has also using online platforms to inform consumers about tips and recipes that could help them reduce food waste.

“We at Eroski appeal to consumers to be responsible and not throw away any food fit for consumption. With this aim in mind, in 2014 we devised a campaign with the slogan “Food’s for eating, not for throwing away,” added Mr Berriochoa.

Its outstanding efforts have brought Eroski a prestigious award from the Spanish Food Banks Federation. The retailer received the Golden Wheat-Ear for distributing food to people in need. The Federation’s president, Nicolás Palacios highlighted that Eroski has been co-working with food banks since 1996.

The joint Eroski-food banks programme continues and has been extended to fresh produce, while making sure that the donated food reach their consumers in perfect condition.

Photo: Eroski shop

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