A Sydney woman has taken to Facebook in an attempt to resolve a food wastage issue at her local Woolworths. The customer shared a photo from her local Woolies, which shows a red waste bin overflowing with artisan bread from social enterprise The Bread & Butter Project.
The shopper said she and another customer noticed the bin while shopping at the Bondi store one evening earlier that week. "Myself and another customer were at Woolies a few days ago (around 7.30/8pm), and experienced an employee throwing out at least two full bins of their bread," Ms Lognhi explained. "The other customer asked if she could get the product discounted or for free since they were throwing it out, and the Woolies employee said that unfortunately they are not allowed to."
Woolworths has since responded to the outcry, saying the bread goes to "organic waste" and confirming their commitment to reducing food wastage to zero by 2025.
The Bondi shopper said she queried where the leftover products would end up. "I asked whether it was at least going to local charities," she continued. "[But] we were told that unfortunately due to to an agreement between the brand and Woolies, they are not able to give the bread discounted, for free, or to charity at the end of the day, but they are forced to throw it away."
The woman said she raised the issue with the store manager, who also had misgivings about throwing out such large quantities of food, but he explained that his hands were tied as the situation was "really outside their control, as an agreed request from the brand supplier".
Facebook users were outraged by the wastage, with many questioning why the bread couldn't be donated to charity, with one perplexed person noting that Woolworths has existing relationships with food charities such as OzHarvest.
The Bread & Butter Project describes itself as "Australia's first social enterprise bakery." Since 2013, they claim to have invested 100 per cent of profits into "providing training and employment pathways for people seeking refuge and asylum, who aspire to become bakers".
Although The Bread & Butter Project did not respond to a request for comment from Yahoo News Australia, according to an update the author of the original post shared to Facebook, they did get in touch with her, saying they were sorry to see their bread going to waste, rather than to charity. "We are sorry to see this. Our excess bread typically goes to organisations like OzHarvest and Food Pantry. We're investigating and will be back in touch. Thanks again for bringing it to our attention," they reportedly said.
Woolworths dedicated to reducing food wastage
In a statement to Yahoo News, a spokesperson for Woolworths outlined the company's efforts to prevent food being wasted. "We work hard to reduce food waste across our stores. We've set ourselves a goal to divert 100 per cent of food waste from landfill by 2025, and we've made good progress in recent years thanks to the support of our store teams," the spokesperson said.
"All of our stores have a food waste partnership so that food that can't be sold still goes to good use through donation to local hunger relief charities or for animal feed. Our local food rescue partners wish to support and respond to the particular need at the local charities they service with the donation of our surplus foods, and generally find donated bread easy to source. The Bondi Metro store sends any further leftover stock, including bread, to organic waste.
"Ultimately, we want to see more surplus edible food get to those in need and remain focused on deepening our partnerships with our existing hunger relief agencies, while also exploring further opportunities to divert these products. We also continue to work with our suppliers to ensure we are receiving stock in line with demand from customers."
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