How we calculate our food waste figure (Central Europe)

Food Waste Methodology: How we calculate the food waste figure from our CE operations

Scope and Definitions

The methodology outlined below is used to calculate the total tonnes of food wasted in our Central European (CE) operations for the full Tesco financial year2020/21. The information provided is in conformance with the Food Loss and Waste Accounting Standard (FLW Standard).[1]


In line with our financial reporting, the published figures for food waste covers our 2020/21 financial year, which runs from 1 March 2020 to 27th February 2021 inclusive.

Store Location and Type

The scope of this calculation covers food waste arising only from our depots and stores in Central Europe (Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia). Note that in line with financial reporting Tesco operations in Poland were removed from food waste reporting in 2020/21, as the Poland business was sold during 2020. Historic figures have been updated to reflect these changes (see below).

Food waste arising in Tesco owned and managed Bistro & Grills was included. Other food waste arising in customer 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

The food waste definition used by Tesco is aligned with that of the UK as well as that adopted by Champions 12.3.

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

Destinations: The definition of food waste includes to following destinations (as defined in the FLW Standard): Anaerobic digestion/codigestion, Composting/aerobic processes, Incineration/controlled combustion, Land application, Landfill, Sewer/wastewater treatment, Not harvested/ploughed-in, Other (including unmanaged disposal).

Food donated to charities or sent to animal feed 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 in non-food categories, for example health & beauty, pet care or electrical products.
  • Plants and flowers in the Produce Category.
  • 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.
  • Clear-as-you-go: waste arising from clearance events.
  • Returns: customer returns that can no longer be sold.

All waste data is provided as negative units. These are multiplied by minus one for this to be reported as a positive figure.

Depot data: This dataset contains the number of depot units wasted and the total value (£) of such waste per item. Depot waste figures are reported as a mixture of positive and negative totals. Negative figures are ‘losses’, i.e. waste. Positive figures are single items that have been retrieved from wasted packs (e.g. individual cartons retrieved from a broken case). The total waste per item is the sum of losses and gains multiplied by minus one, to align these data with other datasets. From 2020/2021 the depot dataset also includes the number of units and the total value (£) of units donated or sent to animal feed from depot.

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.

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

  • Donations to food banks, local and national charities: donation of food for human consumption.
  • Other donations: donations to other entities, for example food donations to zoos for animal consumption.


The bullet points below explain how we have calculated our total food waste tonnage for the full year 2020/21:

  • Included in the scope of our calculation is any food that has not been sold in our stores and depots. 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 Central European operations.
  • Waste tonnages are summed to obtain totals by category and for our entire Central European operations.
  • We used this calculation method for 94% of the waste products (by weight) from our own operations – in our depots and within our stores.
  • The remaining 6% of waste by weight (equivalent to 6% 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:
    1. 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.
    2. For all items requiring adjustment, items are checked on a sub-category basis and either the category or sub-category average is used based on expert judgement.
  • 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.
  • The same method is used to measure the tonnage of donation as well as the total tonnage of food sold.

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

Food waste intensity figures

0.6% of food was wasted in our CE operations in 2020/21. In line with the Food surplus and waste measurement and reporting UK guidelines from 2020/21 our food waste intensity figure represents our food waste as a percentage of food handled. Restated figures are shown below.

Food handled is the sum of food wasted, donated, sent to animal feed and sales. The figure for food sales is measured using the same method for food wasted: multiplying the number of units handled by the same per unit weight used in the calculation described above.

Restatement of food waste figures

Find below the restatement of food waste intensity figures from FY 16/17. This restatement accounts for two updates in the methodology:

  1. Removal of data associated with operations in Poland.
  2. Updated definition of food waste intensity as described above.


Financial Year

Total Food Waste


Food Waste as a % of the food handled

(by weight)

FY 16/17



FY 17/18



FY 18/19



FY 19/20



FY 20/21



[1] More information available here.

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