Edible surplus food will no longer go to waste in Tesco’s 2,700 UK stores after the supermarket partnered with food sharing app OLIO to redistribute the goods and help feed local communities through a ‘ground-breaking scheme’.

In a social media campaign, Tesco says it has #NoTimeForWaste and is already ‘supporting communities by donating two million meals every month’ to charities through its Community Food Connection scheme with FareShare. Now, it goes one step further by joining forces with OLIO and ensuring that more food nearing its sell-by date is used to feed ‘people in crisis’.

The scheme will work via a network of 8,000-plus local volunteers – ‘Food Waste Heroes’ – who will be able to see which food items are nearing their expiry date before collecting them for free at Tesco stores through a non-contact pick-up system designed to adhere to social distancing. Once in their possession, the volunteers will upload the items to the OLIO app. Users can then collect the items from pre-agreed contact-free collection points – arranged via private messaging within the app – such as ‘in a front garden or wall outside someone’s house’.

In return for their service, volunteers are permitted to keep 10% of the food they collect for themselves, should they need or wish to.

The scheme was trialled between December 2019 and February 2020 at 250 Tesco sites and resulted in 36 tonnes of food being redistributed.

Right now we want to make sure that any surplus food is being managed and people who need it have access to it

Co-founder of the social enterprise, Tessa Clarke, comments: “Our partnership with Tesco means that more people than ever before will be able to benefit from access to surplus food. They’ll also be joining our community of neighbours who not only support one another, but also believe that every little counts in the fight against food waste.”

Claire De Silva, head of communities at Tesco, adds: “We are very proud of our food waste work and our Community Food Connection scheme with FareShare helps thousands of charities every week.

“Right now we want to make sure that any surplus food is being managed and people who need it have access to it. The results of our initial trial were very positive and have allowed us to further roll out the partnership in our commitment to make sure no good food goes to waste.”

The news comes as The Trussell Trust forecasts a 61% increase in demand for food parcels this winter, as rates of unemployment escalate.