Food waste reduction: action plan

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

Case studies

Primary school waste warriors - St Bridget's Primary

St Bridget's Primary in Kilbirnie, North Ayrshire, is a prime example of a school that has immersed itself in the battle against food waste. The school has been actively tackling food waste since 2017 making lunchtime a place of learning - as well as eating!

Pupils are at the heart of St Bridget's approach with 'Waste Warriors' acting as lunchtime waste auditors whose role is to encourage pupils to eat their lunch or share it with a buddy. They also take pictures of the clean plates and ensure that any unavoidable waste or recycling is put in the correct area. At the end of each lunch session they weigh and record the bags of food waste so that progress can be measured.

Head Teacher, Mr Hopkins explains: "We have a meeting in the school every Monday morning with all the pupils, staff, nursery children and usually about 30 to 40 parents. One of the first things we do is to show the zero waste pictures, which we also put on Twitter. The publicity and spotlighting has been really effective in getting the pupils engaged."

And this focus on food waste has also been adopted by the youngsters outside school through 'zero waste at home' and 'zero waste out' with families taking pictures of their empty plates in restaurants.

Laura McNally is a catering assistant at St Bridget's as well as having a son at the school who is one of its Waste Warriors. "The waste from our kitchen has fallen dramatically and the message is going home to parents to encourage their children to eat more and throw less out."

And what do the Waste Warriors think? "It's a waste of food to put it in the bin. We're Waste Warriors. We need to fight that to make it stop going in the bin."

St Bridget's Primary School demonstrates how a whole school approach can have wider benefits for pupils, parents and community as we all strive to do our bit to fight food waste in Scotland.

Macleans Highland Bakery: A cracker of an opportunity

Take some leftover grains from a local brewery. Add a little flour and butter, perhaps some seasoning, and a magical touch gleaned from years' of baking experience. What do you get? For Macleans Highland Bakery in Forres, it's a tasty cracker with global sales potential that reduces waste at the same time.

Back in 2017, a waste audit, arranged through Zero Waste Scotland's Resource Efficiency programme, prompted the question: could Macleans Highland Bakery use the spent grains, draff, coming out of the nearby Windswept Brewing Company in Lossiemouth? Draff is a fibre by-product of beer and whisky production that is rich in protein. At that point in time, the draff at Windswept Brewing Company was being composted but by considering a more circular approach there was the potential to capture more value from the material.

After the collaboration was suggested, Macleans Highland Bakery got to work with the new product development and exploring how they might use the draff as an alternative to flour. The team baked bread, rolls, oatcakes and crackers and got some good results. The bread worked well but the crackers were a better fit for the business and Maclean's plans for the future. The biscuit from beer was born.

Not only does the draff add a depth of flavour to Maclean's new product but it gives the cracker a real point of difference and sense of provenance. At the moment, the draff crackers are made by hand. All going well, the bakery will scale up to produce the cracker commercially. An official launch is planned for the end of 2019.

Managing director, Lewis Maclean, spoke of his ambitions for the cracker: "I'm looking to make a great product with as clean a label as possible. And we want the packaging to be minimal and in keeping with the zero waste philosophy."

Macleans Highland Bakery showcases what a business can achieve by looking at its processes, exploring new ideas, and collaborating with other businesses. Within Scotland, there is an appetite for innovation to transform surplus food stuffs into higher value products through adopting circular economy principles with benefits for profitability and planet.

Good to Go

Every year £200 million worth of food is wasted in Scotland's hospitality sector. Around 34% of this is estimated to be 'plate waste' - good food left over at the end of a meal.

Good to Go is helping to change the culture around leftovers by giving customers an easy way to take uneaten food home.

Zero Waste Scotland's research revealed that, while customers are keen to be offered 'doggy bags', two fifths are too shy to ask. Restaurants participating in our Good to Go pilot, where customers were proactively offered doggy bags, reported average food waste reductions of 42%. They also said that customers overwhelmingly welcomed the service.

By providing the customer with advice from Food Standard Scotland for keeping food safe on each Good to Go box, the scheme also addresses possible safety fears.

Zero Waste Scotland now offers free Good to Go starter packs, that include 300 boxes, bags and communication materials, to organisations employing up to 250 people. So far, more than 300 Scottish businesses, social enterprises and charities have taken part in the Good to Go initiative.

Love Food Hate Waste Scotland: 'Turn down for Turkey' with Chef Gary Maclean

In December 2018, Love Food Hate Waste Scotland launched a campaign to reduce food waste at Christmas, fronted by popular MasterChef winner and Scotland's National Chef, Gary Maclean.

Evidence suggests that 100,000 turkeys are wasted each December in Scotland. One of the main reasons for this is cooking at too high a temperature. Other behaviours that result in festive food waste are over-buying and not using up leftovers.

To counter this problem, the campaign focussed on Gary calling on Scots to turn down the temperature of the oven and cook the bird for longer to achieve the perfect festive roast. This message was brought to life in three videos, where Gary shared his top turkey tips (Buy smaller than you think you need, Clever carving, Turn down your oven and cook upside down).

The campaign was delivered through a blend of PR and social media advertising and content. This integrated approach targeted busy families and couples in the run up to and during the festive season, aiming to support them in an accessible and positive way.

Other food-saving tools were developed, including a waste-free Christmas dinner shopping list to feed two, four or eight people. Vegans were catered for too, with a festive menu for four. The campaign also featured five creative dishes to use up leftovers.

To support this content, an overarching PR campaign featuring Gary Maclean with turkey farmer Roger Lucey, of Gartmorn Farm, highlighted the need to value our food and connect with where it comes from.

The results of this activity included 178 pieces of media coverage, involving international titles such as the Huffington Post, with a total reach of 326.8 million. The Love Food Hate Waste Scotland Facebook saw a total page reach of 557,000 and 3422 individual engagement that generated interactions and information sharing between followers.

As part of the growing movement against food waste in Scotland, campaigns such as this will play a key role in empowering people to make small changes that, collectively, can have a big impact.

Black Soldier Fly larvae could turn some of Scotland's food waste into salmon feed

Black Soldier Fly larvae are voracious eaters who could help Scotland to reduce one strand of its food waste. They fatten up on organic residues from food manufacturing and agriculture and become a source of protein for salmon.

As Scotland's second biggest food export industry, salmon farming uses huge volumes of feed, with a lot of it sourced from wild caught fish. This could be replaced by ingredients from Black Soldier Flies, making it an attractive circular economy opportunity for turning food which might otherwise have been wasted into a valuable feedstock. Even the by-products from insect farming could have potential economic value, as they can be processed and turned into biodiesel, chitosan and fertiliser. With a world leading food and drink manufacturing sector, a large salmon farming industry, and an emergent biorefining industry, Scotland is well-placed to be a global leader in insect farming.

The evidence gathered by Zero Waste Scotland suggests that Black Soldier flies could also be part of the solution for environmental problems associated with food waste. At present, the most environmentally effective method used for treating food waste in Scotland is anaerobic digestion (AD). Zero Waste Scotland's report estimates that Black Solider Fly treatment of food waste from manufacturing businesses could generate additional environmental and financial benefits.

To highlight the potential of Black Soldier Flies, Zero Waste Scotland organised the Scotland's first insect farming conference in Edinburgh in 2019. The organisation has also been working with technology start-up company, Entocycle.

Entocycle's business is insect farming. It grows and harvests fly larvae to produce protein-rich flour that can be used in aquaculture or as pet food. In 2018, Zero Waste Scotland helped the company to identify opportunities and Entocycle hopes to begin the rollout in early 2020.

Keiran Whitaker, Entocycle's CEO and founder, said; "When it comes to insect production, all roads lead to Scotland. The waste streams, financial support, salmon industry… it's all there. For green technology to evolve you need forward thinking local authorities and public bodies to support them because it's inherently risky. Having agencies like Zero Waste Scotland, which can be a driving force in a positive way, is vitally important."

Moray Food Bank and The Fair Food Transformation Fund

The Scottish Government's Fair Food Transformation Fund aims to "support projects that give a more dignified response to food poverty and help to move away from emergency food aid as the first response." The fund invests in projects that balance current demands for emergency food aid with community-led long-term solutions to food insecurity. In 2019-20, the Fund will invest £3.5 million in projects that benefit individuals, families and communities, while also reducing food waste.

Moray Food Bank in Elgin has received £52,977 of Fair Food Transformation Funding between 2017 and 2019. Having started as a traditional food bank, operating from a fixed location in Elgin, this project has progressed on to a wider distribution model. It works with local food suppliers and with other services to provide support for people experiencing food poverty across Moray.

The project has broadened the opportunities for people to access food aid in easier and more dignified ways. They can choose to use food banks, enjoy community lunches and access community larders in a range of convenient and discreet locations.

Having established connections with its participants, Moray Foodbank has been able to extend its support to include advice on fuel and on accessing other services.

Moray Food Bank has brought even bigger benefits to its users' lives; it offers people the chance to engage with their community by volunteering with the project. The project focuses on finding a meaningful role for everyone, working around whatever barriers volunteers may have, to ensure that they feel useful and involved. The project has built a strong network of participants, volunteers, suppliers and support services. Because so much of Moray is rural, the food bank experienced the specific challenges of serving a widespread community and of being further from the networking opportunities available to similar organisations in the Central Belt.

Longer-term support from the Fair Food Transformation Fund has helped protect and develop the partnerships that are so important to Moray Food Bank, the services it provides and the people who use it.

Moray Food Bank puts food, that might otherwise have been wasted, right at the heart of its services to people who need help. This successful community-led project illustrates how a creative and coherent approach to food and its redistribution can benefit participants, their families and their communities.



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