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sainsbury's logo


Strategic partnership with leading supermarket chain

Case study // Biffa’s expertise has played an integral part in Sainsbury’s smashing one of its key sustainability targets well ahead of schedule

In June last year, Sainsbury’s announced that it had achieved one of its major sustainability targets – to divert all of its 85,000 tonnes of waste away from landfill. Although no small feat in itself, this achievement is larger still when you consider the retail giant had done it seven years ahead of schedule.

The goal, part of Sainsbury’s ‘20x20’ sustainability plan, was achieved through its nine-year relationship with Biffa. It’s this intimate partnership, combined with Biffa’s waste management expertise and nationwide facilities, that led to the success.

So how did they do it? Biffa implemented a two-pronged approach to deal with the challenges presented by Sainsbury's store formats, collecting backhauled waste from larger supermarket stores, while collecting material from urban convenience stores, where operational restrictions prevent backhaul.

Sainsbury’s donates surplus food to a food distribution charity, while unsold bread is processed for animal feed. Meanwhile, Biffa treats any remaining food and biodegradable waste through anaerobic digestion (AD), at plants such as its Poplars AD facility in Cannock, generating enough electricity to power 2,500 homes.

Waste backhauled from Sainsbury’s supermarkets, is processed at Biffa Transfer Stations and exported as Refuse Derived Fuel.

James Skidmore, Sainsbury’s environmental resource manager, said:, “We’re very proud of hitting our target for zero waste to landfill, which we set three years ago, Biffa’s support and in-depth understanding of our operation was critical in this achievement.”

Russell Leach, Biffa corporate account director, Retail Sector, added: “We’re delighted that our solutions have been integral to Sainsbury’s sending zero waste to landfill. It’s due to our close strategic partnership that we’ve been able to develop tailor-made solutions for its 602 convenience stores and 592 supermarkets.”

Among the numerous projects the two companies have been working on are plans to sell digestate – an AD waste product that can be used as liquid fertiliser – to farmers in the Cannock area.

Russell continued: “But we’re not stopping there. The joy of our relationship is exploring ideas to ensure Sainsbury’s remains at the forefront of waste management.”


0 2369

Tonnes of food waste managed by Biffa every four weeks

0 2500

Homes could be powered by the energy we produce from Sainsbury’s food waste

0 1086

tonnes of confidential waste bags collected from convenience stores and sent to recycling. Equivalent of 240 trees saved.

Martin Nobes - Head of New Business

Martin Nobes

New Business Enquiries - if you're interested in how Biffa can help support you with strategic sustainable solutions contact Martin by emailing

Sainsbury's Cannock Superstore

The Poplars anaerobic digestion plant in Cannock receives food waste from many Sainsbury’s stores

(l-r) Russell Leach, Biffa corporate account director, and James Skidmore, Sainsbury’s environmental resource manager

Our survey shows...

In a Biffa customer survey of Sainsbury’s stores:

94% of supermarket stores surveyed scored Biffa’s service as 'excellent'

67% of stores surveyed had a first-time resolution to their query