The Co-operative Group is expanding its back haul operation in a move that will save thousands of road miles and see 34,000 tonnes of food shop waste diverted from landfill.

At the moment 1,500 food shops segregate waste for collection by The Co-operative's Logisitics Service with support from transport partners Norbert Dentressangle and Wincanton, which is delivered to the retailer’s distribution depots.

It is collected from here by Biffa, with waste food and flowers sent for anaerobic digestion to generate biogas energy; customer and general waste sent to a refuse-derived fuel facility, which shreds and dehydrates solid waste to produce fuel; and dry mixed items, such as milk bottles and tins, recycled.

The Co-operative is now rolling out the scheme to its entire estate of 2,800 food shops, which will remove thousands of road miles from its distribution network, as well as ending 225,000 skip collections.

David Roberts, director of trading property at The Co-operative Food, said: “The waste back-haul project is a win-win solution. It will not only divert all our food store waste from landfill, but will also convert it into a valuable resource, which we believe sets new standards in waste management.”

Last month The Co-operative completed the overhaul of its logistics network with the opening of its Castlewood DC.