Surplus Food Scheme Expands Into Non-Food Product Reuse

Social platform Neighbourly has announced that its food surplus scheme has been expanded to include non-food product donations, with Marks & Spencer on board as the first retailer.

The extension of Neighbourly’s award-winning food donation scheme follows research with its food charity partners which found that 92% would like to receive non-food donations, with cleaning and laundry products and toiletries the most requested products.

Many are also in need of kitchen equipment and furniture. Neighbourly has expanded its platform so that the surplus scheme can now accept a wider range of products from businesses.

“Being able to maximise the reuse of non-food products is not only good for our business, but it is also good for the environment and for local communities by enabling them to focus their funds on their core activities.”

“In addition to our regular surplus food donations, the donation of non-food items forms part of our overall Plan A 2025 aim to become a zero-waste business by 2025,” commented Louise Nicholls, Head of Responsible Sourcing at M&S.

“Being able to maximise the reuse of non-food products is not only good for our business, but it is also good for the environment and for local communities by enabling them to focus their funds on their core activities.”

M&S was the first food retailer to sign up to Neighbourly’s food redistribution scheme in 2015 and added chilled food donations from 130 of its stores in May. M&S has started to roll out chilled food donations including meat, dairy, poultry and prepared meals from all its stores nationwide. Lidl joined the scheme in 2016 and is currently rolling out across UK stores.

Hugh Step Forward

The Neighbourly scheme connects national retailers with local charities and to date, the platform has redistributed over 1,500 tonnes of surplus food – the equivalent of around 1.8 million meals. Over 700 charities have so far joined the scheme and together they provide around 95,000 meals each month to their communities using the donated food. The charities range from homeless shelters, food banks and soup kitchens to community centres, schools, clubs and more.

“Extending the Neighbourly platform from food to non-food is a huge and exciting step forward, not just for us, but for the charities we support, the retailers we work with and the communities in which they operate,” added Nick Davies, founder of Neighbourly. “The ability to redistribute unwanted but still useful surplus items will contribute to the reduction of raw material consumption, landfill use and CO2 levels, and of course is extremely beneficial to the work of charities and community groups.”

Non-food items accepted by the surplus scheme include (but are not limited to) laundry and household items; toiletries; baby care; pet supplies; furniture; electrical items; technology items; kitchenware; clothing and textiles; toys; sports equipment; books; garden items; and painting and DIY equipment.

Charities can sign up to Neighbourly and request an alert for the type of products they are interested in within a certain geographical area. The alert can range from a broad category, such as all household items, to more specific items, like books. Neighbourly is free to use for charities, community groups and individuals.

Participating businesses post their available surplus online, either making it available to a select group of charities or to anyone with an interest in that product. Charities receive an alert about what is available and can then pick the products up from a store or warehouse location.


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