Coffee giant Starbucks has announced a new initiative to donate all unsold food from its stores to food banks within the US. The scheme would see ready-to-eat meals donated from its 7,600 outlets in the US.

This will be done through a partnership with food bank charities Food Donation Connection and Feeding America in a programme known as Foodshare. Every day a refrigerated van would collect unsold food from Starbucks stores and redistribute it through food bank systems.

Starbucks estimates that within the first year it would be able to provide five million meals to people in need of food. The scheme would be scaled over the next five years, and the store says that by 2021 it would have provided almost 50m meals.

"When we thought about our vast store footprint across the US and the impact we could make, it put a fire under us to figure out how to donate this food instead of throwing it away," said Jane Maly, brand manager at Starbucks Food. "The challenge was finding a way to preserve the food's quality during delivery. We focused on maintaining the temperature, texture and flavour of the surplus food, so when it reached a person in need, they could safely enjoy it."

In the UK, supermarket chain Tesco announced a similar initiative at the beginning of March, saying that all food unsold in its stores would be donated to partnered food banks across the country. The UK has, at different times, been called the most wasteful country in the EU, with around 14m tonnes of food wasted in Britain every year.

In France, the government took a stand on the food waste issue by banning supermarkets from throwing away or spoiling unsold food. The steps taken by the French government have led to calls for other governments in the EU to start taking similar measures to combat the world's food waste problem.