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Freegans beware: Sainsbury’s will burn your lunch

by David Masters
January 27, 2009

Freegans – who boycott capitalism by eating food dumped by supermarkets – could soon find themselves looking for a new food source following an announcement by Sainsbury’s.

The supermarket giant has revealed plans to turn waste food from its Scottish stores into biofuel.

The pilot scheme will see over 40 tonnes of waste food collected from stores turned into biofuel and renewable energy.

“Each tonne of food waste diverted from landfill by Sainsbury’s will generate enough power for 500 homes and will save three tonnes of CO2 compared with fossil fuels,” said Alison Austin, Sainsbury’s environment manager.

Although commendable in its intentions, Sainsbury’s initiative begs the question: Why do we live in a system that throws away such vast amounts of food when for billions of people around the world it is a daily struggle to find enough to eat?

Forty tonnes a week – and that’s only the burnable food waste of one supermarket chain, in Scotland.

Supermarkets are generally very secretive about their waste – could it be that they don’t want us to know they’re throwing away food to artificially inflate prices?

However, we do know that UK households throw away 4.1 million tonnes of avoidable food waste every year – worth £10.2 billion.

As the UK Freegans website points out: “Much of the food that we throw away is unopened.

“1,600 million apples, 1,030 million tomatoes, 2,570 million bread slices, 484 million unopened yoghurt tubs are discarded annually by households in the UK.”

So even with Sainsbury’s burning 40 tonnes a week, freegans will still have plenty to live on.

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