Food waste: review of 2019 waste reduction action plan

A review of food waste reduction progress in Scotland following publication of the Food Waste Reduction Action Plan in 2019.

4 What we are proposing to do

This section reviews what is needed based on what we have learned, why it is needed and how we will develop a plan in collaboration with the businesses, organisations, communities and people who can help us to deliver our food waste reduction commitments at scale and pace.

4.1 What we need to do The insights described in the previous section have confirmed the need to redefine our approach to tackle food waste prevention. It is evident action is needed to address key issues across all sectors and households for the short and long term. The development of the Scottish Government Circular Economy and Waste Route Map provides an opportunity to consult, engage and develop such actions.

The final Circular Economy and Waste Route Map is due for publication in 2024. It will set out how we intend to deliver our system-wide, comprehensive vision for Scotland’s circular economy to 2030; this will include shorter and longer-term actions to accelerate progress on food waste reduction.

To inform the final version, a second consultation on the draft Route Map is now open. The second consultation sets out proposed priority actions the Government will seek to take, in collaboration with programme partners and stakeholders, to progress food waste reduction. These measures complement the findings in this review and build on responses to the proposals in the first consultation. We believe prioritising shorter term actions to help address data gaps and behaviour change is part of the way forward. Specifically, we intend to: explore with stakeholders the most effective way to implement mandatory reporting for food waste and surplus by businesses and develop options for this by 2025-26; and deliver an intervention plan to guide long-term work on household food waste reduction behaviour change by 2025. Delivering these actions will provide new evidence and help build strong foundations for future work.

In addition, we know longer-term action is needed. As outlined in the draft Route Map, the Government intends to work with partners to: strengthen data and evidence; review the rural exemption for food waste recycling, as part of the recycling codesign process; investigate the feasibility of food waste reduction action plans; and deliver enhanced support for businesses. These measures will build on the success of the priority actions and enhance our evidence base to ensure food waste reduction support is impactful up until 2030 and beyond.

While we are confident in the shorter and longer-term actions set out in consultation, we appreciate our approach will evolve in response to new research and ongoing engagement with Scottish households, businesses and organisations. We recognise these ambitions will also be subject to the outcomes of current and future spending allocations, availability of Parliamentary time and support where relevant, and rigorous assessments to deliver value for money.

We will allow room for adapting our approach as needed, however it will likely remain centred on the need to gather evidence, create assets, collaborate, support, measure impact and create new policy as outlined in the table below.

Table 2. Summary of tools for an effective approach to food waste reduction
Gather evidence Work with businesses, organisations, communities, and individuals to improve our evidence base through research and knowledge exchange.
Create assets Translate our evidence base into tangible assets that we can share.
Share and collaborate Share our evidence and assets with key partners who will help us reach as many businesses, organisations, communities, and people as possible.
Provide support Support our partners, businesses, organisations, communities, and people to use the evidence and assets.
Measure impact Work with our partners to identify what is working, why it works, and how much food waste it is saving.
Create policy and legislation Explore new policies and legislation that help create the right environment and incentives that enable everyone to take action.

4.2 Why we need to do it

Reducing food waste is one of Scotland’s waste targets, and it plays a vital part in combating climate change. This is because food waste reduction can contribute to the delivery of a range of other policies and plans, including the Climate Change Plan[65], implementation of the Good Food Nation (Scotland) Act 2022[66], Tackling the Nature Emergency – Scottish biodiversity strategy to 2045[67] and, subject to completion of its Parliamentary passage, the implementation of the Circular Economy (Scotland) Bill[68]. Taking action on food waste at local and national levels can help deliver these wide ranging policies.

In addition to emission savings potential, food waste reduction provides a financial benefit to businesses in reduced waste management and material costs; and to households through reduced spending on food; and local authorities through reduced waste management costs. It should therefore be a key component of Net Zero plans for businesses and the public sector.

The first consultation on the Circular Economy and Waste Route Map set out why we need to deliver effective food waste reduction, and the key themes for achieving this. This ranges from addressing the whole food system, to resetting attitudes, enhancing the circular bioeconomy, gathering better data, and building resilience in the food system. More information outlining this background is provided in: Delivering Scotland’s circular economy – route map to 2025 and beyond: consultation[69].

4.3 How we will do it

In 2019, the FWRAP included a call to action and stated that we all have our part to play. While businesses, organisations, communities, and individuals have taken action, we need a much more co-ordinated response from a much greater number of people. We need actions that have been co-developed by the people that will have to deliver them, and people who will take ownership and responsibility for delivering reductions in food waste.

Following publication of this review, the Scottish Government, supported by Zero Waste Scotland, will undertake an engagement process to work with key partners in each sector. We will identify the businesses, organisations, communities, and individuals who can help us to gather relevant evidence and create effective solutions. A key factor in working with partners will be their ability to influence others in their sector to take action on food waste.

This process will enable us to develop a new set of commitments and actions to deliver the food waste reduction potential of each sector.

This will build on engagement with SEPA, and wider stakeholders, through the Circular Economy (Scotland) Bill, the Circular Economy and Waste Route Map and the feedback received through the consultations. Responses to the food waste reduction proposals outlined in the second consultation on the Circular Economy and Waste Route Map are invited. Please see the Route Map for more information on how and by when you can respond to the consultation.

This collaborative approach is vital to make progress. It will enable us to listen to views, gather evidence and share information to make change, informed by the 2021 Food Waste Estimate analysis as a benchmark. Combined, this will ensure the final Circular Economy and Waste Route Map will focus on tangible actions everyone across Scotland can take to reduce food waste at the scale and pace required.



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