Scotland’s environment secretary Richard Lochhead has pledged to cut the country’s food waste by a third by 2025, as part of the country’s newly released circular economy (CE) strategy.
The Making Things Last proposals also include a 70% recycling target and a 5% landfill limit for all waste by 2025, which were previously announced.
Lochhead (pictured), who made the announcement during a visit with EU environment commissioner Karmenu Vella in Edinburgh, said the food waste target could save Scottish businesses and households at least £500m.
He described the target as “the first of its kind in Europe”, and said it would put the country on track to meet the UN sustainable development goal of halving food waste by 2030.
“Household food waste in Scotland has decreased by an estimated 37,000 tonnes a year, 5.7% overall since 2009, saving households across the country a staggering £92m a year. That’s a great start but I want to see more done, which is why I have set this target,” he said.
“We have identified four priority areas where we can make the biggest environmental and economic impact: food and drink, energy infrastructure, remanufacturing and construction.”
Vella said: “I am delighted to hear about Scotland’s ambitious and exciting plans for a more circular economy.
“The Commission also has ambitious plans for a CE, and we looking forward to working with Scotland to help turn [it] into a reality.”
WRAP welcomed the food waste target in the strategy, which will be delivered in collaboration with the country’s enterprise agencies, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and Zero Waste Scotland.
A WRAP spokesperson said: “Achieving a 33% reduction is going to be a challenge, so we all need to work collaboratively on this issue. WRAP’s work with the industry under the Courtauld Commitment 2025 will have a real role in bringing everyone together to achieve this.”
Zero Waste Scotland chief executive, Iain Gulland said: “Today’s announcement shows that once again Scotland is prepared to lead the way internationally on such issues.
“Against a back-drop of an increasing population and changing diets, food waste is one of our biggest global challenges. Reducing it will reduce carbon emissions, save our natural resources, save us money and help boost our economy. These are the benefits for reducing all waste and developing a more circular economy according to the government’s strategy.
“It will require change in the way we do things but we already have innovators leading the way. Our role at Zero Waste Scotland will be to inspire and harness the imaginative thinking and practical action that’s needed, and we look forward to working with partners to reduce all waste and become more circular.”
The Scottish Environmental Services Association policy advisor, Stephen Freeland said the strategy’s “ambition” was good for investment.
”In particular, the strategy’s proposals to improve the quality of recyclate collected from households and businesses are welcome.
”The levels of contamination increasingly found within these waste streams poses a potential threat to Scotland fully realising the opportunities offered by the circular economy.
”Better information to householders of the range of materials that should and shouldn’t be presented for recycling would help reduce contamination and improve confidence in the system.”
Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced £70m of EU and domestic funding for manufacturing and the CE on 15 February.
Food businesses in Scottish towns that generate more than 5kg of food waste a week are now required by law to have it collected separately for recycling, after changes that came into force on 1 January.
The European Commission’s CE package, published on 2 December, included recycling targets of 65% for household waste and 75% for packaging waste by 2030.