Tag: donation

Shoprite tackles waste with AI

Source: Shoprite

South Africa wastes up to 10.3 million tons of food each year – and this is a problem the Shoprite Group is tackling from multiple angles.

Food waste is not just a front to the hungry in a country where 2.5 million people experience hunger weekly. It also has significant environmental and economic implications. Food is wasted across the supply chain, from farm to fork. It is a complex issue, which is why Africa’s largest food retailer has adopted systematic and comprehensive plans to address it.

Stopping waste before it occurs

The best way to reduce food waste is to avoid it to begin with, according to Sanjeev Raghubir, the Shoprite Group’s Sustainability Manager.

“Our biggest efforts go into preventing food waste and losses before they occur,” he explains.

The Group does this by reviewing its ordering, replenishment and ranging processes, using data analytics to identify food waste hotspots. For example, by optimising the product range in its delis, the Group reduced food waste by 11% in that department.

Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to fight food waste

“Shoprite has adopted various technologies to fight food waste,” continues Raghubir. The Group uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict sales at its stores. Replenishment orders are placed automatically, to ensure that stock is always available for customers while simultaneously reducing food waste.

Various parameters are considered by the AI model. “For example, a store close to the finish line of an annual sporting event will automatically be replenished with additional convenience meals for that single day of the year,” Raghubir says.

Salvaging and rescuing food is a popular process seeing increasing use abroad, and it’s another important piece in preventing food from being wasted. For example, blemished bananas can be used in a banana-bread recipe.

Donating food

Although the Group’s procedures and practices go a long way towards reducing surplus food, it does not eliminate it altogether. Surplus food, still fit for human consumption, remains and every day the Group donates more than 120 000 meals to over 450 charities to fight hunger and address food security.

In the past year, the Group donated surplus food valued at R138 million. It also facilitates the donation of surplus fruit and vegetables directly from farms to charities.

Creating circular economies with waste products

Not all surplus food is fit for human consumption, but the Group has a plan for this, too. Every week, Shoprite sends around 44 tons of food waste, mainly dried goods like pasta, cereals, and flour, to be converted to animal feed.

Regenerative and organic farmer Farmer Angus sources over 4 tons of fruit and vegetables (not fit for human consumption) from the Basson Distribution Centre in Cape Town each week. He feeds this to his pigs and supplies an artisanal charcuterie range back to Checkers, thereby creating another circular flow of resources and avoiding waste.

Even the 904 479 litres of used cooking oil recovered from Shoprite and Checkers delis last year, is not wasted. This oil is used for industrial applications, including the conversion to biodiesel.

Organic waste from stores and distribution centres is increasingly managed through on-site composters and off-site biodigesters. In its last financial year, the Group sent 236 tons of food waste to composting.

These measures are having a marked impact on food waste and the environment. The Group diverted 3,305 tons of food waste from landfills in the past year and saved 8,391 tCO2e.

The Shoprite Group is closely aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, including the target to halve food waste at retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along the food chain by 2030 – a goal it is now on track to achieve.


Source: UCT
Image credit: UCT

PNA, South Africa’s one-stop stationery shop, has gifted R50 000 to the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Jagger Reading Room. The funds will go towards the rebuilding project to restore the much-loved library to its former glory.

The Jagger Reading Room was completely gutted when a runaway wildfire ripped through parts of UCT’s upper campus in April, leaving a trail of destruction. Several other iconic UCT buildings were also affected.

Ujala Satgoor, executive director of UCT Libraries, accepted the donation from PNA group general manager Herman Botha.

“This is an excellent example of ‘business South Africa’ investing in libraries that contribute to research and the knowledge economy.”

“This is an excellent example of ‘business South Africa’ investing in libraries that contribute to research and the knowledge economy. The gift from PNA will be added to our efforts towards creating permanent solutions for the preservation of our Special Collections,” Satgoor said.

Salvage process

In the aftermath of the fire, a team of expert restorers and volunteers have worked tirelessly to salvage thousands of wet items from the water-logged Jagger Reading Room basement. This process involves placing these items in cold storage – the first line of defence in an archive’s fire salvage plan.

Satgoor said she and the UCT Libraries team are grateful for the donation – especially as they are exploring the possibility of purchasing their own freeze dryer (cold storage) unit, to further mitigate any additional damage to the salvaged material.

“But this comes at a cost of R1.5 million for a basic unit,” she said.

The salvaged items are currently being stored at several controlled sub-zero-temperature locations across the city, and are being closely monitored for mould, which is said to further deteriorate paper and which results in image distortion.

“The [Jagger Reading Room was at the heart of UCT, and contained the most impressive collection of books, maps, newspapers and film from our country and the continent. The oldest book in the library was by the Roman historian of the first century Valerius Maximus, [and was] published in Germany in 1471,” said Botha.

“While some of these items, sadly, are irreplaceable, it was obvious that PNA [can contribute] financially to the university’s rehabilitation and preservation efforts.”

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