Eco Shops: A Year of Impact

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of Eco Shops, allow us to explain. Designed to combat the huge amount of food wastage occurring from supermarkets across the UK, Eco Shops are pop-up shops set up across the region to sell food that would otherwise go straight to landfill. For just £2, customers can visit an Eco Shop and choose 10 items, ranging from packets, tins, jars and almost anything in between. Fresh fruit and veg is normally given away free with a shop so it doesn’t go to waste! All of the food in Eco Shops is perfectly good to eat – it may have just been over-order, have misprinted packaging or be close to its sell-by date. 

Eco Shops’ vision is to prevent food that is perfectly edible from being thrown away, and to challenge and change people’s perception of food waste and the environmental effects it has. 3.6 million tonnes of food is thrown away every year in the UK by the food industry and over 2 million tonnes of this is still edible – enough for 1.3 billion meals. 

Starting at Middlesbrough’s Park End primary school in 2018, the Eco Shop’s amazing success spread to more and more schools, with other primary and secondary schools launching their own Eco Shops. Following this, community venues such as the Ubuntu Multicultural Centre CIC launched their own waste-beating food shops for members of the community to visit and buy from. 22 Eco Shops have been established across Teesside so far, with more opening across the wider North East region. 

In the past year, these Eco Shops have had an amazing impact on food waste, redirecting 141 tonnes of waste away from landfill. This is equivalent to 143 transit vans full of food! This amount would have been worth £168,000 at retail, and could provide 347,000 meals – enough for lunch and dinner for everyone in Middlesbrough! From an environmental standpoint, 382 tonnes of COhas been saved, equivalent to taking 83 cars off the road for an entire year. 

Eco Shops are an incredibly powerful force for fighting food waste and there’s plenty of support available for setting up your own here.