This document reviews food waste reduction activity in Scotland following publication of the Scottish Government Food Waste Reduction Action Plan (FWRAP) in 2019 and identifies lessons learned in order to inform future actions to tackle food waste.
The 2019 Plan set out how Scotland would meet the target to reduce food waste in Scotland by 33% by 2025, using 2013 food waste estimates as a baseline. Available evidence indicates that the need for effective action is increasing across Scotland. The latest data suggests that, in 2021, over 1.037 million tonnes of food was wasted in Scotland (equivalent to 189 kg per person per year) and this accounted for approximately 6% of Scotland’s total carbon footprint in that year. In comparison to the 2013 baseline, this is a 2% per capita increase and a 5% increase on the volume of food wasted. Despite high awareness of the importance of reducing food waste, and a very small decrease in per capita household food waste, this increase is not sustainable. It does not support Scotland’s statutory obligation to reach net zero by 2045 or our transition to become a circular economy to provide economic, environmental and societal benefits.
Since 2019, delivering food waste reduction actions was impacted by unforeseen circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic, economic challenges and cost of living crisis have significantly impacted on businesses and communities and resources have been diverted to respond to these crises. As a result, while a number of commitments set out in the FWRAP have been delivered, others, like establishing a food waste hub, were paused. Some other activities, such as supporting food redistribution, have taken place despite not being a key action in 2019.
The review sets out the lessons learned from activity to date and highlights clearly that food waste reduction is not happening at the speed or scale required to meet existing targets. The review highlights where there are opportunities to do more across all stages of the food system. The review also points to the lack of global success in achieving consistent, significant reductions in food waste; and the lack of legislative levers available to help reduce food waste at a national-level. The review makes these lessons, gaps and opportunities clear to help inform future work.
The review has informed the second consultation on the Scottish Government’s draft Circular Economy and Waste Route Map which sets out proposed next steps on food waste as part of wider waste reduction activity. The Scottish Government, in collaboration with Zero Waste Scotland, will use the lessons learned from this review and any new evidence generated through the Circular Economy and Waste Route Map consultation and stakeholder engagement to finalise future measures to tackle food waste, which will be set out in the final Circular Economy and Waste Route Map, due for publication in the first half of 2024.
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