Food waste reduction: action plan

Sets out how Scotland can work to deliver it's commitment to reduce food waste by 33% by 2025.

Public engagement & communication

Sustained and large-scale public communications activity on food waste

Lead organisation: Scottish Government, Zero Waste Scotland & Food Standards Scotland

Households and consumers are the leading source of food waste (61%) and sustained and wide-reaching communications with the Scottish public is vital. Our consumer food waste prevention actions will be based on the latest in behaviour change science; dynamic and responsive to changing consumer behaviour. They will also align with other food and sustainability initiatives such as Good Food Nation. We aim to empower householders and consumers to drive change in their own homes and to prompt further change in the business and public sectors.

We will do this by increasing communications activity between now and 2025. Multi-channelled and audience-specific campaigns will reach Scotland's householders and consumers with messages that focus on preventing food waste, food reuse and recycling.

The first campaign, from Greener Scotland, will launch just before the publication of this Plan.

Preventing food waste

Prevention is the highest priority in the fight against food waste and the focus of the Love Food Hate Waste Scotland consumer focused programme since its launch in 2009. Many of the most successful campaigns have focused on key periods of food waste like Christmas, Halloween and Burn's Night. The campaigns provide practical advice, educating and inspiring consumers with recipe ideas, shopping tips and storage guidance. Key elements in Love Food Hate Waste Scotland is the consistency of the message and accessible format of the delivery.

Progress has been made, and the public recognition of the environmental and societal impact of food waste is growing daily. However, sustained and large-scale public communications are urgently needed to empower the householder and consumer to drive change. We have seen how powerful the consumer has been in driving change on the issue of plastic packaging.

We aim to replicate this kind of behaviour change through:

  • Educating consumers by providing information based on robust evidence and insight;
  • Promoting tools for the consumer and householder to prevent waste in their own homes;
  • Working with C2025 partners and businesses to address issues such as pack size, single portion pricing, and portion guidance[2];
  • Delivering integrated, audience-specific marketing campaigns and;
  • Using 'Food Waste Champions' (chefs, and key figures from different sectors) to help reach and engage all audiences.

How to reuse and recycle food waste

Recent Scottish Government research shows that consumers are unaware of the environmental damage caused by food waste. Shortly before the publication of this Plan, the government's Greener Scotland team will raise awareness of this issue with a national integrated campaign 'Food Gone Bad'. This will encourage more householders to recycle their food waste effectively; meaning that less will go to landfill and more will become a source of renewable energy.

The contamination of food waste can result in a potentially valuable resource being sent to landfill or resulting in environmental contamination if used for composting. Improving the quality of food recycling will, therefore, be a key message in our communications to householders and businesses.

Food labelling

Extensive confusion about the meaning of different food product labelling leads consumers to prematurely dispose of significant amounts of food. Providing consumers with clear and consistent product labels, and a better understanding of when food is no longer safe for consumption, will help them to reduce waste, make the most of their food purchases, and save money.

Under the C2025 agreement, this work with key industry signatories (including all main UK retailers) is already well underway and best practice guidance is published. Scotland will continue to contribute to this process and will launch communications to develop people's understanding of new labelling and of the best way to store food.

We will promote food waste reuse and recycling by:

  • Launching the national campaign, 'Food Gone Bad' to educate consumers on the environmental damage caused by food waste and encourage them to recycle unavoidable food waste.
  • Developing targeted campaigns that work with Food Standards Scotland and with Local Authorities to improve recycling rates amongst 'hard to reach' audiences whose participation is poor.
  • Working together with SEPA to communicate the importance of improving the quality of our food waste recycling to reduce contamination.
  • Raising awareness of how our food waste can be a valuable resource for Scotland.

For food labelling we will work with Food Standards Scotland, across the UK governments, with industry and WRAP to help reduce consumer confusion and increase knowledge on:

  • The information used on labels (for example, 'Best Before' rather than 'Use By');
  • The length of time between the purchasing of a product and the expiry date;
  • Advice on how long a product is still good to eat after its packaging has been opened and;
  • Optimal storage and freezing advice.



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