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Farmers and Green Energy leaders back £4m Food Waste Scheme

Scottish farmers and renewable energy leaders today backed a £4m Scottish Government scheme that will see 25,000 tonnes of waste food diverted from landfill and recycled into fertilisers and green energy.

15 Mar 11

The funding, which will be delivered by Zero Waste Scotland in partnership with the Scottish Futures Trust, will help councils and private waste firms to collect and reprocess food waste from Scottish homes and businesses.  The aim is to recycle wasted food by composting or through anaerobic digestion. This latter process turns waste into a fertiliser which can be used on food crops, and a biogas which can be used to generate electricity, as a vehicle fuel or to heat homes and businesses.

The Scottish Government’s Zero Waste Plan has targeted food waste recycling as a key step to helping achieve new targets for 70% recycling and only 5% to landfill by 2025.  The plan has targeted widespread collection of food waste from both homes and businesses by 2013, and this investment is aimed at making that happen.

The funding comes on the same day as the Government publishes details of a new approach to measuring performance against recycling targets.  The Scottish Government’s new Carbon Metric system will take into account the greenhouse gas emissions associated with waste to provide a new measurement tool for councils and others.  It is expected that measurement will switch to the new carbon scheme in 2013.

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said:

“Scottish households produce over half a million tonnes of food waste each year at an average cost of £430 per household. Staggeringly, this equates to a third of the average ‘black bag’ rubbish sent to landfill, where it breaks down to produce methane – a greenhouse gas 21 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide.

“This extra funding will lead to a transformation in how we view food waste, and will encourage us all to think differently about the amount of food wasted in the first place. The food we throw away is actually a valuable resource with multiple benefits to the Scottish economy, such as reducing farmers’ reliance on expensive chemical fertilisers and by helping fuel our low carbon economy.

Recycling food waste, such as vegetable peelings, chicken bones and plate scrapings, is also a tremendous opportunity for councils to reduce their rising landfill costs.“I'm delighted to announce today another huge and world-leading step the Scottish Government is taking to monitor Scotland’s recycling successes. The new way of measuring performance will focus on the carbon savings of each item, rather than its weight.

“This demonstrates the Scottish Government’s Zero Waste Plan in action and another huge step towards our vision of a zero waste Scotland.”

Iain Gulland Director of Zero Waste Scotland said:

“Food waste is an environmental problem – but it is also a huge opportunity for Scotland.  Harnessing the nutrients and energy potential within food waste will help create jobs, attract investment and enable farmers to grow more good local food.  We will be inviting funding applications from councils and recycling companies in April, with £4 million available this year.

”The funding has also been backed by representatives of local authorities, the Scottish farming sector and the renewable energy industry."

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) also lent support to the scheme, commenting: "Councils are committed to Scotland's shared vision for a zero waste Scotland and welcome the discretion provided by this support programme.

“We welcome the business case support available to councils to voluntarily assess the viability of separately collecting food waste and the recognition that the collection method for biodegradable wastes needs to be addressed on a case by case basis.”

Nigel Miller, President of NFU Scotland said:

“As farmers, we are challenged to produce more food while impacting less on the environment. Reducing our reliance on manufactured fertiliser whilst making better use of compost not only meets that challenge but is good business sense in the present economic climate. There are real benefits for producers in using compost both in economic nutrient value and also in improving soil structure.

“Transforming food waste into a resource that can improve the health and fertility of our soils and improve our efficiency as producers is an important route to improving the long term sustainability of farming in this country.”

Niall Stuart, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, said:

“We simply can’t go on wasting our resources the way we have been. This is a win-win for businesses and environment – less waste to landfill means reduced costs, and more renewable electricity means progress towards secure, home-grown energy and lower carbon emissions. New ways of treating waste could create several hundreds of new jobs over coming years in this clean, green sector.”

Barry White, CEO of Scottish Futures Trust, said:

“Scottish Futures Trust is delighted to be working in partnership with Zero Waste Scotland to support local authorities in securing access to affordable and sustainable food waste treatment facilities.  The funding available through Zero Waste Scotland and the combined expertise available from both Zero Waste Scotland and Scottish Futures Trust will help councils identify value for money solutions that not only meet their landfill diversion and recycling targets but also contribute to Scotland’s renewable energy and carbon targets, as well as creating construction opportunities in the short term.”

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