Food waste

We believe that far too much food and drink goes to waste, unnecessarily draining resources and budgets.

A report entitled How much food waste is there in Scotland?, published in November 2016 by Zero Waste Scotland, states that in 2013 an estimated 1.35 million tonnes of food and drink in Scotland was wasted.

Just under half of this comes from households, with the majority coming from industry and commercial enterprise.

Scottish Food Waste Reduction Target

The 1.35 million tonnes per year figure forms the baseline for our target to reduce all food waste arising in Scotland by 33% by 2025.

Including both avoidable and unavoidable food waste, this target focuses on prevention – it doesn't include food waste recycling, because by that point the food has already been wasted.

Zero Waste Scotland has identified a number of actions grouped under four themes under which activity to reduce food waste could be carried out:

  • business and organisations showing leadership
  • empowering people to make better choices
  • areas where product standards and regulations may be applicable
  • technology and innovation to avoid or add value to wastes

Industry food waste

We have made regulations to ensure that the biggest food businesses recycle their food waste.

The Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012 initially required all food businesses generating more than 50 kilograms in non-rural areas to recycle their food waste, but in 2016 we extended the requirements to those generating more than 5 kilograms.

Power from waste

Anaerobic digestion is a natural but accelerated process in which micro-organisms break down organic matter such as food waste in sealed vessels in the absence of oxygen. This generates a biogas which can be used directly in engines, in the same way as natural gas, or as vehicle fuel.

Anaerobic digestion plants are becoming more numerous in Scotland, enabling us to get further use out of food waste and increasing our resource efficiency.