Scotland's first 'rescued food' shop opens in Edinburgh

A shop selling 'rescued food' has opened its doors for the first time in Edinburgh - with customers paying a donation for goods which would otherwise be thrown in landfill.

Published 25th Jan 2019
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

Campaigners estimate that the equivalent of 54,000 meals are being thrown away in Edinburgh alone, every week.

The new shop opened its doors on Friday. Picture: SWNS

And in a bid to cut down on food waste, a radical concept which has proved successful down south, in Leeds, has been brought to fruition in the capital.

The Food Sharing Hub, on Bread Street, Edinburgh, opened its doors on Friday, with shelves stacked with fruit, vegetables and bakery products which supermarkets would previously have binned as they were past their best before date.

But with partnership from Tesco, the Co-op and Lidl, volunteers are collecting foodstuffs from five grocery stores and making them available at less cost.

Stats compiled by the Food Sharing Hub suggest the quantity of food waste would be around 27.1 tonnes a week in the capital - while Zero Waste Scotland estimates that nationally, 1.35 million tonnes of food and drink are thrown away a year.

To combat this, the Food Sharing Hub has introduced a membership system, costing £1 to join per month.

Once a member, shoppers can fill a basket with food every day, and contribute a donation to help cover the costs.

It has been happening on a smaller scale for the past five years, with volunteers from the SHRUB Coop, which collected 30.36 tonnes of surplus food from 25 small businesses and redistributed it, on foot or by bike, to local charities.
But the new shop will be the first time in Scotland that large corporations have been involved.

The hub collects food from local supermarkets using a large bike and puts in sale with customers paying what they feel like. Picture: SWNS

Shop co-ordinator Sydney Chandler, 33, said: "We've got a huge variety of stuff - longlife milk, lettuce, apples, bread, rice, even cans of Red Bull.

"It's a bizarre mix of things.

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"We have got no idea what's going to come in."

They conceded that the kinds of stock was not yet stable enough to do a weekly grocery shop, but hopes are high that if the idea proves successful it could expand.

Sidney added: "The supermarkets donate food which is still safe to eat, that doesn't meet their brand standards - as opposed to legal standards.

"It would be legal for them to sell it and it is legal for us to.

"It's things like bakeries wanting to get rid of bread at the end of the day.

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"Part of what we're doing is trying to eliminate that, making people think 'does it look like it's gone off and smell like it's gone off, or is it a day the shops are trying to get it off the shelves?'."

Within the first hour of opening around 15 customers had come into the shop to browse.

A core team of eight volunteer shop assistants work there, along with another nine who help with deliveries.

Shop assistant Sue Wang, 23, got involved while also studying for a post-grad in TESOL at the University of Edinburgh.

Sue said: "I think it's a really exciting thing to have - I wanted to join to help others.
"Everyone who has come in has said they will come again soon."

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The shop opens three days a week, on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, from noon until 4pm.

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