Food waste reduction: action plan

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

Supporting the delivery of a new approach to food waste

Establish a Food Waste Hub to deliver coordinated and collaborative action

Lead organisation: Zero Waste Scotland

A Scottish Food Waste Hub will provide a one-stop-shop for food waste issues in Scotland. It will be driven by the principles of the complete food surplus and waste hierarchy, support food waste prevention, and encourage the optimisation of Scotland's bio-resources. It will harness the existing expertise in Zero Waste Scotland, other national agencies including SEPA and Food Standards Scotland, and Scottish Research Institutes. It will also build and use wider links to other forums existing under current UK arrangements such as C2025 and EU Platform activities. The Hub will be governed by a multi-stakeholder Steering Group.

Scotland is world-renowned for breakthrough science and innovation. There is huge opportunity to bring together our resources and talents to address the food waste challenge through the development of a dynamic bioeconomy. In accordance with the waste hierarchy, the reuse of food waste resources is far more desirable and sustainable than its disposal. Therefore, all prevention and redistributions options must be exhausted.

Industry recognises this as a major - and under-utilised - resource stream. The scale of the opportunity is huge: more than 27 million tonnes of bio-resources arise every year in Scotland (Zero Waste Scotland 2017). Even within the limits of existing legislation and waste regulations, these could be converted into low cost, high quality animal feeds or turned into high value renewable products such as nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals and chemicals.

In the Whisky, Fish and Beer sectors alone, we could save an estimated £500 to £800 million every year by making better use of waste and by-products (Zero Waste Scotland 2015). The planned actions will drive the Scottish bioeconomy and ensure, when food waste is not preventable, that it can provide a useful resource and also help to keep Scottish businesses at the forefront of this rapidly evolving area.

The Food Waste Hub will:

  • Expand Scotland's business advice and support services for SMEs through Zero Waste Scotland's funds and programmes;
  • Provide technical support and special financial assistance to food businesses; overcoming the barriers and accessing technologies;
  • Develop a 'matchmaking' service to pair novel technologies with potential funders and users across the food supply chain;
  • Analyse Scotland's skills in this area and identify which skills are needed to support food waste prevention and optimise bio-resources
  • Raise awareness of food waste hierarchy's principles; promoting alternative uses for food waste where collection is unavailable or unviable.
  • Promote research into innovation to identify emerging Bio-technologies and facilitate collaborations between businesses that generate food waste and those who can utilise these resources.

Promote community food redistribution and consult on food surplus obligations

Lead organisation: Zero Waste Scotland

Food only becomes waste when it is no longer complies with food safety or hygiene requirements. Making sure it is redistributed before this point will, therefore, reduce food waste.

Many organisations already use high quality surplus food as part of their community activities. Some do so with support from the Scottish Government's Fair Food Fund, which will be £3.5 million in 2019-20.

The Scottish Government is committed to making Scotland "a country where everyone has access to nutritious food without needing emergency food aid". In accepting recommendations from an Independent Working Group on Food Poverty in 2016, Scottish Government recognised the contribution surplus food can make today within a broader framework that promotes dignity and is focused on tackling the causes of poverty.

More widely, food sharing or redistribution can be both macro or micro in scale and its possibilities are generating interest at local and national levels. Many organisations access surplus by building direct relationships with retailers or producers, others work with organisations like FareShare who make the connection, and some use technology or shared assets to avoid waste.

There are already many examples of successful redistribution initiatives across Scotland:

  • Community fridges in Kirkcaldy, Glasgow (Pollokshields) and Mull & Iona;
  • Edinburgh's Food Sharing Hub which is facilitated by the Shrub Co-op, part-funded by Zero Waste Scotland, and working with Tesco, Co-op and Lidl and;
  • An increasing number of mobile apps such as Too Good To Go, Olio and many others, offer redistribution.

To scale up food surplus redistribution and ensure that no edible food is wasted, we will:

  • Work with SEPA to provide advice and guidance to business and charities regarding their legal obligations and statutory waste management obligations for food waste;
  • Work with Food Standards Scotland to review food standards and reduce barriers to food waste redistribution;
  • Consult, in 2019, on an obligation for food retail sites over a certain size to ensure that they redistribute edible products in line with the principles of the food waste hierarchy;
  • Support Scottish businesses in their commitment to redistribution targets in line with the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap;
  • Continue to offer financial support to Scottish redistribution charities and;
  • Develop our advice and support service for community redistribution projects such as community fridges and innovative food redistribution hubs.



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