How we calculate the food waste figure - Republic of Ireland

Scope and Definitions

The methodology outlined below is used to calculate the total tonnes of food wasted in our ROI operations in the full Tesco financial year 2016/17. The information provided is in conformance with the Food Loss and Waste Accounting Standard (FLW Standard).


The published figure represents the food wasted in our full financial year 2016/2017. This year, this includes 52 weeks, from 28th February 2016 to 25th February 2017 inclusive.

Store Location and Type

The scope of this calculation covers food waste arising only from our depots and stores in the ROI. Food waste arising in restaurants and staff canteens in our stores and depots are out of scope, as is any food waste arising in operations owned by Tesco, upstream in the supply chain, such as haulage wastage and committed crop wastage.

The calculation only covers our operations. Therefore, waste arising at our suppliers’ sites and from third party counters in Tesco stores is not included.

Food Waste Definition

Material types: The scope of the calculation includes food waste and associated inedible parts.

Destinations: The definition of food waste is based on that of EU FUSIONS[1]: “Food waste is any food, and inedible parts of food, removed from the food supply chain to be recovered or disposed (including composed, crops ploughed in/not harvested, anaerobic digestion, bio-energy production, co-generation, incineration, disposal to sewer, landfill or discarded to sea)”.

Therefore, food donated to charities via the FoodCloud programme is not considered to be food waste. Packaging waste is excluded.

Food Categories

All food categories sold at Tesco are included in the scope[2].

During the calculations, all non-food items are removed from our waste data. The following products are out of scope and therefore excluded from the calculations:

  • All products within the Health, Beauty & Wellness category except baby food and nutritional fitness food.
  • All products in the Household & Petcare category except food items.
  • All petcare and incense products in the Grocery category.
  • Plants and flowers in the Produce category.
  • Paper items in Speciality Foods.
  • Store transfers were also excluded.
  • Some individual products were excluded in other categories where they were clearly not food, for example: books, glassware.


Data Sources

In order to calculate the amount of food wasted each year we record the following data in our stores and depots.

Retail waste: This dataset contains the number of retail units wasted and the total value (£) of such waste per item, split by waste type –

  • DAM waste: products that are damaged in store, whether on the shop floor or in storage
  • OOC waste: Products that exceed the ‘Best before’ or ‘Use by’ date and can no longer be sold
  • Product Write Off waste: Products that are not suitable for sale. For example, the supplier has sent a request to withdraw the product as it is not safe for consumption
  • Exceptional Events waste: Products that are damaged during an exceptional event. For example, this waste could be caused by a fridge breakdown or flood

Depot waste: This dataset contains the number of depot units wasted and the total value (£) of such waste per item.

Product data: This dataset contains the contents weight and the packaged weight per item. Note that where duplicates are found, a conservative estimate is taken and the highest weight is used.

Bakery Weights data: This dataset contains the weight per item for bakery products that do not have a weight assigned in the product weight data. The product specification weight is provided by our bakery team.

Store Donations data: This dataset contains the tonnage of food donations from stores.

Depot donations data: This dataset contains the number of units and weight of food donated from our depots.


The bullet points below explain how we have calculated our total food waste tonnage for the full year 2016/17:

  • Included in the scope of our calculation is any food that has not been sold in our stores because it is past its best before or use by date, has been damaged, withdrawn from the market or de-ranged. The non-food categories mentioned above are removed at this stage.
  • The number of units wasted per item is converted into a weight measured in tonnes by multiplying the number of units wasted by the per unit weight*.
  • We perform a ‘bottom up’ calculation from the waste tonnages for individual products (e.g. Gala Apples), to the commercial food category (e.g. Produce), to our entire ROI operations.
  • Waste tonnages are summed to obtain totals by category and for our entire ROI operations.
  • We used this calculation method for 77% of the waste products (by weight) from our own operations – in our depots and within our stores.
  • The remaining 23% of waste by weight (equivalent to 22% of total units wasted) occurs in products for which a weight is not available (this could include items such as baguettes in our bakery or food in our deli counters) or where the weight provided is not correct.
  • The following steps are taken to select the best estimate for product contents weights:
    • Product content weights are checked category by category and are marked as requiring adjustment where the content weight is missing or if it is high or low compared to the category average.
    • If an adjustment is required, packaged weights are selected where available and if appropriate per expert judgement.
    • For all items with no packaged weight data available, items are checked on a sub-category basis and either the category or sub-category average is used based on expert judgement.
    • For the Bakery category, primary data collection was necessary to obtain average weights for several sub-groups.
  • To minimise the risk associated with such estimates, categories with the largest number of waste items are prioritised and checked in more detail as these have the greatest impact on the total waste.
  • In addition, within each category, the products with the highest number of wasted units are checked manually one-by-one as these can also have a significant impact on the total waste tonnage.
  • Where charity donations are included in our waste records we subtract the donated tonnage from our food waste figure as these items are donated for human consumption.

* It is assumed that 1 L is equivalent to 1 Kg where product content weights are listed as volumes.

Food waste intensity figures

1.1% of food was wasted in our ROI operations. This figure represents our food waste per food sales by weight. The sales weight is measured using the same method for food waste: the number of units sold is multiplied by the same per unit weight used in the calculation described above.

Reporting against our target

This year we have made a commitment that no food that is safe for human consumption will go to waste from our ROI retail operations by the end of 2020. The waterfall chart presented on our website illustrates how we are tracking against this target. This shows the breakdown for our food surplus in FY 16/17, i.e. all food that is present in our stores or depots that is not sold.

Damages: this includes all food waste that occurs due to damages or product write offs. In most cases this surplus is not suitable for donation and is therefore excluded from our target. For example, the packaging may have been compromised or a product may have been recalled from the market as this poses a risk to consumers.

Not Safe to Donate: This section shows the amount of food surplus that is not suitable for human consumption and is therefore wasted. These products cannot be donated by law or because of food safety issues. This includes waste arising due to fridge breakdowns, where the cold chain may have been broken making the food no longer safe to consume.

Donated: This includes all food donated to charities from stores and depots.

Anaerobic Digestion: This is food that is safe to donate, but was not donated. This is the number we use to measure our progress against our target. This year, all food that was not donated was sent to anaerobic digestion.


[1] For more information see:

[2] United Nations Central Production Classifications 2.1 Divisions 21 – 24