Scotland pledges 33% food waste reduction by 2025

The Scottish Government has pledged to reduce the nation's food waste by one third over the next nine years - a plan that would save businesses and households across the country more than £500m if successful.

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead today (23 February) unveiled the publication of Scotland’s first ever circular economy strategy, outlining bold plans to significantly reduce waste in the food and construction sectors and promote recycling and reuse across the country.

“The Scottish Food Waste Reduction Target is the first of its kind in Europe,” Lochhead said. “Pledging to cut food waste by 33% by 2025 will put Scotland at the forefront of global action to tackle food waste, and will put us on track to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goal of halving food waste by 2030.

“Household food waste in Scotland has decreased by an estimated 37,000 tonnes per year – 5.7% overall – since 2009, saving households across the country a staggering £92m a year. That’s a great start but I want to see more done, which is why I have set this target today.”

Industry reaction

Commenting on the announcement, a WRAP spokesperson said: “It’s really encouraging to see the Scottish Government’s strong commitment to tackling food waste. Achieving a 33% reduction is going to be a challenge, so we all need to work collaboratively on this issue.

“WRAP’s work with the industry under Courtauld Commitment 2025 will have a real role in bringing everyone together to achieve this.”

Zero Waste Scotland’s Iain Gulland added: “Against a back-drop of an increasing population and changing diets, food waste is one of our biggest global challenges.

“Reducing it will reduce carbon emissions, save our natural resources, save us money and help boost our economy. These are the benefits for reducing all waste and developing a more circular economy according to the government’s strategy.

“It will require change in the way we do things but we already have innovators leading the way. Our role at Zero Waste Scotland will be to inspire and harness the imaginative thinking and practical action that’s needed, and we look forward to working with partners to reduce all waste and become more circular.”

The Scottish Environmental Services Association’s (SESA) policy advisor Stephen Freeland said: “SESA welcomes the ambition contained in the Scottish Government’s Circular Economy Strategy. The industry is crying out for long-term certainty to help underpin investment as we face persistently challenging market conditions. In particular, the strategy’s proposals to improve the quality of recyclate collected from households and businesses are welcomed. 

“The levels of contamination increasingly found within these waste streams poses a potential threat to Scotland fully realising the opportunities offered by the Circular Economy. Better information to householders of the range of materials that should and shouldn’t be presented for recycling would help reduce contamination and improve confidence in the system.”

Circular goals

The new strategy – which will be delivered in collaboration with Scotland’s enterprise agencies, SEPA and Zero Waste Scotland – has also outlined plans to reduce construction waste which currently represents about 50% of all waste in Scotland.

This aim will be delivered by trialling a number of large-scale re-use and repair hubs for business and local authority buildings. Both the private and public sector will be encouraged to promote reuse by expand the availability of the “Revolve” standard for remanufactured goods.

The strategy aims to establish the Scottish Institute for Remanufacture as a centre of expertise, which would be only the fourth of its kind in the world. The strategy will also explore the opportunities for reuse and remanufacturing in the medical sector through trials with the NHS.

Last week, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a new £70m Circular Economy Investment Fund intended to help Scotland establish itself as a global competitor in the manufacturing sector.

Making Things Last – A Circular Economy Strategy for Scotland

Food for thought

In an exclusive interview with edie last week, Britain’s largest food redistribution charity FareShare called on food waste campaigners to stop ‘beating up the supermarkets’ and instead look further up the supply chain, when tackling the issue of food waste.

ReFood’s Philip Simpson has also discussed the £3bn challenge facing the food industry and how businesses can recuperate losses through better reduction and recycling strategies in a contributed article published on edie earlier this week.

Matt Mace

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