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New Report Highlights Water and Carbon Impact of Scotland’s Wasted Food

The water and carbon footprint of wasted household food in Scotland has been identified for the first time, highlighting the major environmental consequences of food waste, both in this country and globally.

22 Mar 11

The figures come from a new report, The Water and Carbon Footprint of Household Food Waste in the UK - jointly published by WRAP and WWF today (Tuesday 22 March) - found that water used to produce food that householders in Scotland then waste represents 6% of the country’s water requirements, (520 million cubic metres per year), a quarter of which originates in Scotland.

The avoidable part of the water footprint of household food waste is 243 litres per person per day, compared to the daily average household water use in Scotland of 150 litres per person per day.

The same wasted food also represents 3% of Scotland’s domestic greenhouse gas emissions (1.7 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent) with further emissions arising abroad.  In total, these greenhouse gas emissions are the same as those created by 600,000 cars each year.  

The work follows a report in 2009 by WRAP which identified that Scottish households throw away 570,000 tonnes of food and drink waste every year, two-thirds of which could have been eaten.  By discarding that food, the water and energy that was used to grow and process those foods is not recovered, giving off greenhouse gas emissions that could have been avoided.

The report also goes on to identify the countries of origin for wasted food and looks at the context of water scarcity in those regions in the shape of case studies.

Iain Gulland, Director of Zero Waste Scotland, said:

“These figures are quite staggering.  The water footprint for wasted food – 243 litres per person, per day – is even higher than the average daily water use in Scottish households, of 150 litres per person per day, and the greenhouse gas emissions are serious too, being responsible for around 3% of Scotland’s domestic emissions.

“We already know that by reducing food waste, householders can save money – up to £430 a year for the average household.  Now it’s absolutely clear that they can make a big contribution to addressing environmental concerns too.”

Dr Dan Barlow, Head of Policy at WWF Scotland said:

"Tackling the amount of food we waste in Scotland has a significant role to play in reducing our global environmental impact.  With the consequences of climate change and water shortages already being felt by communities around the world it is imperative that we take steps to cut food waste."

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