Food waste is a global problem. An estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted every year. This is around one third of all that is produced for human consumption, and it is generating about 8% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.
Scotland contributes to this problem. In 2014, Scottish households threw away around 600,000 tonnes of food and drink waste. This meant that, as a nation, we also wasted the resources that went into producing, transporting and buying that food. When food waste ends up in landfill, it produces methane gas that is many times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide. It also means that we are losing a potentially valuable resource that could be redistributed to humans, recycled as animal feeds, or even converted to fuel and energy.
Scotland is addressing its food waste problem with this ambitious Action Plan designed to: reduce unnecessary demand for food; improve how we produce, store and cook food so that we waste less; increase food recycling rates and; make better use of food waste as an organic resource. By tackling issues at every level in the food waste hierarchy, Scotland plans to meet its ambitious target to reduce its food waste by one third by 2025. This means that the country must prevent around 297,000 tonnes of food waste each year.
Food is an important part of Scotland's identity and of our economy. By valuing our food and wasting less of it, we can help to protect the environment, boost the Scottish food and drink sector, strengthen food security, and help make Scotland a healthier nation. The Food Waste Reduction Action Plan, therefore, aligns with the Scottish Government other cross-cutting policies, such as A Healthier Future and Good Food Nation.
While Scotland is one of the most ambitious nations in its plans to reduce food waste, it is not alone. The United Nations' Sustainable Development target 12.3 aims to half global food waste by 2030, and other European countries have also set targets to radically reduce food waste.
Everyone in Scotland can play a part in reducing our food waste.
The Scottish Government, supported by Zero Waste Scotland, will lead a collaborative effort to implement this Plan and organisations from every part of the food supply chain will help to combat food waste.
Key agencies, including SEPA and Food Standards Scotland, will provide the guidance, support, and infrastructure to drive change and deliver on the target.
The Scottish food and drink industry will show leadership and drive innovation to reduce waste throughout the supply chain.
Our public sector will reduce food waste throughout its buildings and services. This work will inform other organisations' efforts and help to make unnecessary food waste unacceptable in Scotland.
We will support Scotland's researchers and innovators in developing and sharing ways to reduce food waste and to extract value from this organic resource.
The people of Scotland will be motivated and empowered to reduce their food waste and, as consumers, they will also drive changes in labelling and in food businesses' corporate behaviour.
We will make this change possible and reach our 33% reduction target by working across four vital and interconnected areas.
1. Improved monitoring and infrastructure
To reduce waste effectively, we need to improve our monitoring, measurement and reporting of food waste across all sectors. We will:
- Consult, by the end of 2019, on a mandatory national food waste reduction target and mandatory reporting of Scotland's food surplus and waste by food businesses.
- Develop the infrastructure to support the reporting of food waste.
2. Sector leadership
Everyone in Scotland is expected to play their part in tackling food waste and reaching our target. We will support leadership, innovation, effectiveness and efficiency in Scotland's public, private and hospitality sectors by:
- Building skills, competency and knowledge on the management of food waste.
- Sharing expertise and best practice.
- Promoting consistent, transparent, and Scottish-specific reporting on food waste following the principles of 'Target, Measure, Act'.
- Working with leaders, forums, and professional and stakeholder groups to offer support and advice on reducing waste throughout the food supply chain; also creating 'champions' for the cause of reducing food waste.
3. Public engagement and communications
We are asking Scotland's people to make changes in their choices and behaviours around food and food waste. We will deliver a sustained programme of communications designed to: raise people's awareness and understanding of the food waste problem; engage them in activities that address the problem and; create citizen advocates for food waste reduction.
4. Supporting delivery of a new approach to food waste
Driving effective change throughout the food supply chain needs a coordinated approach. Through a new Food Waste Hub, we will:
- Connect businesses seeking to reduce food waste with the funding, support and innovations that they need.
- Identify the skills that Scotland needs if we are to develop new ways of reducing food waste and optimising our use of bio-resources.
- Promote research and innovation in emerging bio-technologies and other solutions that will tackle food waste.
The Scottish Government is committed to reducing food waste. This plan is designed to engage with every part of our food supply chain and waste hierarchy. It will make the targeted 33% reduction possible by engaging with the producers, suppliers and consumers of food. It will reduce unnecessary demand and avoidable waste and optimise how we use organic resources. It will support technical and business innovation. It will help to make food waste unacceptable in Scotland.