Buy One Get One Free – bad news for zero waste?

Filed in Blog by on October 21, 2009 12 Comments
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Buy One Get One Free - later; says Tescos

Buy One Get One Free - later; says Tescos

I read an intriguing story yesterday about Tescos.

Buy One Get One free are great for the bargain hunters who are not satisfied until they’ve got something for nothing, but they are not always so good for the environment. In fact, as a zero waste fan I hate the offers!

If you Buy One Get One free on toiletries or canned goods, they are fabulous. But, as the Love Food Hate Waste campaign, remind us  – we throw away over 6 million tonnes of food per year. BOGOF offers on fresh food items often end up wasted in landfill.

Earlier this year, Joan Ruddock called on supermarkets to offer more cut-price deals on single goods rather than buy-one, get one free giveaways.

For zero food wasters, the lure of an offer like this can be a nightmare, where you end up with something inedible lurking in the vegetable basket or ‘fridge.

Tescos are proposing to replace ‘Buy One Get One Free’ with ‘Buy One Get One Free – Later’ to help its customers cut down on food waste! This will be available on goods which go off quickly such as yogurt, salad, fruit and vegetables.

Under the scheme Tesco consumers will be given vouchers that last for months at a time so they can claim the free item at a later date.

What do you think of this as an idea? I have to say, on first reading, I’m impressed, but there is a lot of criticism that this is Tesco”s greenwashing again. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (12)

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  1. I saw this story too. I agree it sounds great in principle and actually will be a bonus for all those people who are sufficiently organised. However, I know I’d lose the voucher in the same way as I forget about all the vouchers for schools, that end up going into the recycling bin instead of to the school. If you have to have such schemes I much prefer the way in which other supermarkets such as Waitrose and Asda operate their BOGOFs, which is to offer it across severals types of fruit. For example, you could get a melon and a pineapple in one hit. I used to think that the BOGOFs were a way of being able to respond to extra stock being available and priced accordingly to shift it. off the shelves in an emergency – naive I know , especially as this news from Tesco shows that it’s not about reducing their own potential food waste, it’s more to do with appearing to give customers perceived value for money and thus retain their business. With that said, if the end result is reduced food waste to landfill, it’s a step in the right direction whatever the motives.

  2. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    There is a benefit to consumer in that they can avoid the potential waste outcome of excessive purchased amounts of apples, for example. Supermarkets benefit from increased take-up of the deal and improved customer loyalty, though store food wastage might increase for a period.

    As Mrs A says consumers have to keep receipts/vouchers to make the idea work for them. That is a small inconvenience which should improve their food management.

  3. I saw this mentioned on tv the other night and also thought great in principle.

    But the main items usually on bogof anyway are often over processed and over packaged.

    As said certain items such as toiletries etc don’t cause problems if on bogof.

    This really is a “i’ve got you now operation”, as shoppers will have to go back and alot will not only pick up the free item later but probably also a whole trolley full of other stuff, which they might not have done if given both at the same time.

    So this could actually create more food waste from the extra items picked up..

    Saying that for some customers like ourselves we will go back, but will only get the free item and anything else that was a planned purchase, not items bought just because we are there.

  4. Sharon says:

    I know I would lose the free voucher 90% of the time and fail to claim my “free” product. Which would suggest Tesco has alot to gain with this idea – increased sales of a product while giving less free product away.

  5. Janet says:

    Tescos is the only one who gains by this, they are just playing lip service. Like the majority of people I would find them months later , expired.

  6. Ashley says:

    Or, we could just avoid BYGO offers on perishable items? Or, have a friend over to dinner. Its not rocket science.

  7. LJayne says:

    BOGOF offers are extremely valuable to supermarkets but they are driven by the major companies – the big names behind the products on sale. I used to manage a supermarket and saw this first hand, where they were put, how often they get changed etc.

    I think, on perishable items, this is a good idea for most people. I do a lot of shopping online and don’t always take advantage of the offers depending on the storage space I’ve got, what meals I’m planning and so on. I know a lot of people think I’m missing out on something but, in fact, I’m only spending what I had planned to spend anyway iyswim.

    If you don’t go and collect your free item later then profits are simply driven up because they then sell that item at full price to someone else when they had factored in giving it to you for free.

    But if it keeps it out of landfill I can live with that. Supermarkets are awash with money anyway, one scheme like this will make not very much difference.

  8. Chris says:

    Ok, so many of you say you will lose the voucher. Well if that’s the case – DON’T TAKE UP THE OFFER! 🙂

    Tesco are not forcing you to take something. But if you can do something sensible like putting the voucher in your purse, wallet or reusable bag, then it’s a great offer from Tesco.

    They can’t be held responsible for people losing a voucher. There is responsibilities on the shopper as much as the retailer. We are all grown ups.

  9. Sarah says:

    Why not use the BOGOF thing as it is now, make double dinners and freeze half? Then you have an easy meal at a later date and no food waste.

    I’m very suspicious of Tesco motives tbh – many people will lose the vouchers and it’s just a ploy to keep us going back to these big out of town supermarkets again and again.

  10. Mrs Green says:

    @Almost Mrs Average: hey Mrs A – thanks for your comment. Like you, vouchers tend to sit in mu purse until a few months past the use by date. I like the idea of fruit across the range that Waitrose do – I’ll look out for that.

    @John Costigane: It seems a workable solution for the organised then John. We’ll have to see if it comes into effect and what consumers think 😉

    @maisie dalziel: Good point about people going back and then buying more stuff, Maisie; I hadn’t thought of that one ….

    @Sharon: @Janet: Yep, another disorganised one here! I hadn’t even figured all of this out when I put up the post; there’s a lot to think about …

    @Ashley: I tend to avoid the BOGOF on fresh food because I don’t buy much of it from a supermarket. Thanks for the link; it’s great with really good explanations about zero waste. Invite a friend for dinner – perfect!

    @LJayne: Great to hear your views, Lesley, especially as you’ve been on the inside as it were. I guess shopping online cuts down the impulse buying, so using vouchers at a later date might work well.

    @Chris: Hi Chris, good point! We have free choice – I guess for some people who DO use BOGOF offers and successfully use them up, this new scheme could be frustrating, But perhaps there is nothing to stop you cashing it at the time… We’ll have to see!

  11. Peter says:

    I have accorded it ‘Better than not’ status.

    I did note some had clocked the acronym is BOGOFL, which to those whose minds work that way ends up as ‘Bog Awful’:)

    May I direct those with coupons that lurk to this as a thought:

    It does you no good personally, £-wise, but the community’s good causes…:?:)

  12. Mrs Green says:

    @Peter: Hi Peter, good to see you. The ‘let’s grow’ idea is great – thanks for the heads up on this!

    I like the Bog Awful 😀

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