British grocery chain Tesco has some good news: it has managed to divert 100% of its waste from landfills. But there’s a catch: the chain is using expired meat to do it.
Tesco is using over 5,000 tons of out-of-date meat to generate 2,500 megawatt hours of electricity each year, or enough to power 600 homes each year. The meat waste is sent to biomass-to-energy plants, where it is used to create both heat and electricity for the grid. It’s slightly disconcerting to think about your lights being powered by dead cows, but Treehugger has another complaint–why is Tesco ordering so much more meat than it needs?
The answer is that it’s common grocery store practice to order too much of most things, and in many cases excess food goes to food banks. Even the feel-good grocery stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods do it. It’s certainly not a sustainable practice, but it won’t stop until grocery stores will have to figure out a way to buy just enough food. In the meantime, kudos to Tesco for responsibly disposing of its meat.
The company is also turning recycled grocery bags into refuse bags, recycling used cardboard boxes into new ones for store use, and turning general waste into Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF).