Backhauling - cutting costs, carbon and hygiene standards?

posted 19.11.2013


An argument has arisen over the use of grocery logistics vehicles being used to backhaul waste products after it emerged that Tesco had being using their vehicles to do exactly this.

The story has brought to light a practice whereby Tesco have stopped the use of a waste contractor for general rubbish instead using its own fleet to pick up rubbish from stores following delivery. Despite Tesco?s insistence that the practice causes no risk to hygiene other supermarkets including Asda, Morrisons and Waitrose have moved to declare that they would not utilise this practice as potential contamination risks exist.

Surely however the principle is correct; where Tesco is concerned they have estimated that this could result in a reduction of 20,000 vehicle journeys, a significant reduction in carbon as well as traffic. Economically this also seems to be common sense, the practice will undoubtedly result in lower costs associated with waste movements.

The issue appears to be more concerned with a matter of potential contamination; Tesco currently place the general rubbish (which includes packaging and leftover food) into bags which are then placed in a cage lined with plastic. They also insist that before any further food is transported the vehicles are cleared and inspected. If this is true and the practice is able to maintain appropriate hygiene then I only see this is a beneficial and sustainable move. Obviously, if the process is not as robust as outlined then problems are likely to occur. After all it is a legal requirement that containers used for transporting food must be kept clean and well maintained.

Sainsbury?s also backhaul general rubbish by using plastic bags in crates which are washed out between each use.

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Category: environment, in the news, Mike Close