Managing waste

Food waste

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

One million tonnes of food and drink in Scotland was wasted in 2013. Sixty-one percent comes from households, 25% from food and drink manufacturing and 14% from other sources.

Reducing food waste

In our climate change plan (February 2018), we committed to reduce Scotland's food waste by 33% by 2025. The 1 million tonnes per year figure forms the baseline for our target to reduce all food waste arising in Scotland by 33% by 2025. 

This target includes both avoidable and unavoidable food waste, and focuses on prevention. It doesn't include food waste recycling, because by that point the food has already been wasted.

We published our food waste reduction action plan in April 2019 which explains how we can deliver our commitment to reduce food waste. This plan was developed in partnership with Zero Waste Scotland.

The action plan sets out a number of measures that will support the delivery of this target.  

These include:

  • improved monitoring and infrastructure
  • sector leadership
  • public engagement and communication
  • supporting delivery of a new approach to food waste 

For more information on how you can tackle food waste visit the Greener Scotland website.

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. 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.

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