KUALA LUMPUR: Supermarkets and food stores have already been adopting various approaches to minimise wastage of perishable goods, even before the Government announced plans to introduce a zero-waste policy on food items in aid of the poor.
Mydin has been donating excess foodstuff to charitable organisations as well as allocating a special section at outlets under the hypermarket chain to sell near-expiry goods at substantially lower prices, said its managing director Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin.
“Most supermarkets and hypermarkets have the policy that whatever is on the shelf that expires within two or three months, it will be given to charity, returned to suppliers or sold at a discounted price,” he said.
He added that the goods given to the NGOs, suppliers and customers must still be edible and that these groups are made aware that the foodstuff are close to the expiry date.
“Bakeries and restaurants, too, should be invited to participate in the Government’s proposed zero-waste programme,” he suggested.
On Thursday, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said a nationwide policy is being drawn up for excess food from hypermarkets and supermarkets to be distributed to the needy.
A Tesco spokesman said 56 of their stores nationwide had been donating their food surplus daily to the Food Aid Foundation and Kechara Soup Kitchen since 2016.
Dedicated volunteers from the NGOs collect baked goods and fresh produce from the stores every day.
“The programme started in Tesco UK when our group CEO Dave Lewis pledged that Tesco would not throw away edible food in a bid to curb food waste,” the spokesman said.
Tesco is already testing a programme in which an app sends daily alerts on the amount of the store’s food surplus to its food bank partners, the spokesman added.
Though it’s not a food store, CIMB Foundation has also launched a zero-waste project by installing composting machines at various locations in Taman Tun Dr Ismail.
Volunteers from CIMB and Axile Consulting will train local community members to make compost out of food waste using the machines.
Fruit store owner Tony Lim said stores typically returned excess foodstuff to their suppliers to be made into animal feed.
He said he could earn up to RM200 each time he returned the surplus to his suppliers, adding that they would do a collection about three times a week.
However, not all stores have made it their policy to repurpose food surplus.
A staff member at one supermarket chain said its excess food items such as bread were disposed of daily.
Employees are not allowed to bring home the food items even if they were still edible, the worker added.