4 July 2019 by Joshua Doherty

Scotland sees rise in food waste processing

Laws to force businesses to recycle their food waste have contributed to a 40% increase in the amount of organic waste treated at Scotland’s anaerobic digestion (AD) and composting plants since 2013.

This is according to figures compiled by the Zero Waste Scotland organisation, which carried out surveys of the AD and biogas sector in the country and composting businesses.

Food waste treatment has increased in Scotland since 2013. Pictured: Keenan’s New Deer IVC facility

According to Zero Waste Scotland, 158,500 tonnes of household and commercial solid food waste were collected in 2017, compared with the 2013 figure of 111,500 tonnes.

The rise has been aided by the introduction of the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012 compelling businesses to recycle food waste, Zero Waste Scotland says.


As of 2016, Scottish businesses producing more than 5kg of food waste per week have been required to present food waste separately for collection (see letsrecycle.com story). 80% of Scottish households now also have access to food waste recycling, Zero Waste Scotland says.

However, despite these improvements, a total of 620,000 tonnes of food is thought to be wasted by households in Scotland every year – two thirds of which is seen as avoidable.

A report published in November 2016 by Zero Waste Scotland, estimated that in 2013 1.35 million tonnes of food and drink in Scotland was wasted in households and businesses.

Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said: “This result is fantastic, but think of all the energy that can be produced from the rest of our unavoidable food waste. We are living through a climate emergency and individuals can have a great impact without even leaving the kitchen by simply using their food waste caddy.”

Action Plan

The Scottish Government launched an Action Plan and campaign in May to encourage actions to reduce and recycle food waste (see letsrecycle.com story). It is hoped that the steps outlined in the plan could lead to a reduction in food waste by up to one third by 2025.

Commenting on the campaign, Scottish environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “Our Food Waste Reduction Plan, launched in April, provides more information on the clear environmental and economic benefits of reducing food waste.

“I’d urge everyone who hasn’t already done so to consider a small change in their daily routine to make a big difference to the battle against climate change. We all need to work together to end Scotland’s contribution to climate change and seize the opportunities that creates.”


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