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Pioneering the food waste frontier

Today, research from Zero Waste Scotland showed the true extent of food waste in Scotland.

Iain Gulland | 24 Nov 16

A massive 1.35million tonnes of food and drink was disposed of in 2013; almost half of this from households the rest from businesses and the public sector.

Food waste really is an issue that truly connects the local with the global in the fight against climate change. Lots of small decisions made throughout the food supply chain from point of production right through to our own consumption (or non-consumption!) combine with massive consequences.

A third of the food we produce globally is wasted, resulting in needless emissions and other environmental impacts along the way. This level of waste combined with a growing population, the mass production of more resource-intensive food, and changes in land use that mean less space is available for growing crops, all combining to create a perfect storm of global magnitude.

In Scotland, we have set an ambitious target to reduce food waste by 33% – a third – by 2025. That is world-leading in terms of ambition, and on a local and global level it is clear that tackling the scale of wasted food in our society is an economic, environmental and moral imperative. So the question we must all now answer is, “What can I do to make this happen?”

It’s not easy; people’s eating and shopping habits are highly personal and the supply chains involved are complex. But what’s needed, and what our target gives us the opportunity to do, is a fundamental shift in the social acceptability of wasting food.

This needs to involve everybody because to meet the target will require a transformative change in our food system as well as our behaviours to food in the home. Leadership across industry will be as important as supporting households to take action.  

Many of the big global challenges we face join up and our food system is at the heart of them all – from climate change to population growth, water and natural resource depletion, and habitat loss.

If we crack the challenge of what a sustainable food system looks like and how we get there, we’ll be in a much stronger place as a global society. I know from talking to others around the world that Scotland setting a bold target means many others are watching what we do. That’s positive pressure we should be proud of and everyone living, working and operating in Scotland can help generate results to match.

If you, your community or business want help to become a food waste pioneer, contact Zero Waste Scotland.

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