Cut food waste – save money and help the environment

In Scotland we’re wasting a fifth of the food we buy every year – most of which could have been avoided.

Not only does wasting food cost money but it’s also bad for the environment. Every year we throw away 630,000 tonnes of food and drink, costing Scots over £1billion annually.

A new Scottish Government campaign is encouraging people across the country to reduce their food waste, to help save cash and the environment. By making a few small changes to cut your food waste you could save on average around £470 a year – which is an average of £40 a month.

Environment Secretary, Richard Lochhead said:

“If we used up all the food and drink we currently waste, it would cut carbon emissions equal to taking one in four cars off Scotland’s roads. We all waste food without thinking, but by making a few small changes, we can make a big difference to our budgets and the environment. By shopping smarter and wasting less we can save money and help create a greener, cleaner Scotland now and for the future.

“The best thing we can all do is to prevent food waste, but sometimes it can’t be avoided. As well as helping people to reduce food waste, this year’s campaign is encouraging Scots to recycle the food they can’t use, by using food waste collection services which have now been rolled out in more than 50 percent of the country, or by composting at home where these services aren’t available. By reducing the amount of food that ends up in landfill, we’ll be cutting harmful greenhouse gases.”

When we throw away food that could have been eaten, most of it rots in landfill which creates methane a harmful greenhouse gas, and carbon dioxide – both of which contribute to climate change. Methane is around 25 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide and avoidable food waste produces the equivalent of 1.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.

If we used up all the food and drink we currently waste, it would cut carbon emissions that would be equal to taking one in four cars off Scotland’s roads.

Throwing away food also wastes the energy, fuel, water and time that it took to grow, harvest, store, transport and cook. Whether we’ve bought too much food or not planned to eat it on time, many of us are wasting food without thinking.

Avoiding food waste in the first place is ten times better for the environment but recycling food also helps to cut greenhouse gases. So, if you do have food you have to throw away, the message is clear - recycle it using your local food waste collection service where possible or you compost it.

Iain Gulland, Director of Zero Waste Scotland recommends planning ahead before food shopping: “We want to raise awareness of the environmental and economic impact of food waste and offer practical advice to help householders waste less and save money.”

“Things like checking cupboards and fridge before a food shop to see what you already have and making a shopping list can really help. If you’re tempted by multi-buy offers, make sure you can freeze or share the extra items if you can’t use them up in time and don’t forget to check date labels and store food properly.”

There is some food we can’t avoid throwing away like banana skins, bones or eggshells. But instead of putting it in with the general rubbish, using a food recycling or compost bin will help the environment.

Gulland continued: “We want people to recycle the food they can’t use and help make this a simple process. Almost half of Scotland’s households now have access to a food waste collection service and more are being rolled out in towns and cities across the country. By using kitchen and outdoor food waste bins provided by local councils, you can recycle all kinds of food waste – even bones – and really help the environment. If you don’t have access to a recycling service then you can compost it in a composting bin or heap.”

Food waste is collected from more than a million households in Scotland and is either composted or put through a special process which generates green energy, heat and environmentally-friendly fertiliser products which can be used by Scotland’s farmers.

The service is being extended across Scotland to make it even easier for more people to play a part in reducing the environmental impact of food waste.

Cutting the amount of food and drink you waste is simple. Before long you’ll waste less food, help the environment and save more money. 

For more tips and information on wasting less food, food recycling and local food waste collections services in your area go to greenerscotland.org