Food waste reduction: action plan

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


An estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of the world's food is wasted every year

This waste is equivalent to one third of all the food produced for human consumption. (FAO)

Food Waste is a Global Problem

In a world with finite resources and a growing population, the huge scale of food waste has wide-ranging environmental implications. It is damaging biodiversity and destroying habitats, it is using too much precious land and water, and it is contributing to climate change.

"Food loss and waste generate about 8 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Estimates indicate that if it were a country, food loss and waste would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter behind China and the United States".
(United Nations, 2016)

The United Nations' Sustainable Development target 12.3 seeks to address the crisis: "By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses."

If food loss waste were its own country, it would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter (FAO)

If food loss waste were its own country, it would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter

A reduction in food waste will mitigate its environmental and economic impacts and have the potential to benefit civil society. In the EU, an estimated 20% of the total food produced is lost or wasted (FUSIONS, 2016), while 55 million people cannot afford the cost of a quality meal every second day.

Acting on Food Waste: Scotland's 2025 Food Waste Target

Scotland has a food waste problem too. In 2014 Scottish households threw away around 600,000 tonnes of food and drink waste (Zero Waste Scotland, 2016).

When we waste food, we also waste all the energy and resources that went into producing, processing, transporting and cooking it. We also lose the money spent on all these things - meaning that businesses are less efficient and competitive than they could be, and that householders have spent money unnecessarily.

On top of this, if food waste then ends up in landfill, it generates even more emissions in the form of methane gas. Methane is many times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide. Food waste is also a potentially valuable resource (for energy, fuel or for fertiliser) that we lose to landfill.

In 2016, the Scottish Government's Making Things Last strategy announced an ambitious new target to reduce per capita food waste in Scotland by 33% (from 2013 levels) by 2025. This target was the first of its kind in Europe and recognises the critical role of food waste reduction in the fight against climate change and the transition to a more circular, resource-efficient economy.

Increasingly, other European countries are adopting similarly ambitious targets for food waste reduction. The Netherlands launched its 'United against food waste' initiative in March 2018, with the aim of becoming the first country in Europe to meet the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goal 12.3.

"By 2025, we expect to reduce food waste by 33%...

...and to recycle 70% of all waste."

Scotland's Climate Change Plan



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