by Faith Pashley
Food waste is a global problem. When food breaks down at landfill sites, it releases harmful greenhouse gases like methane into the atmosphere. Approximately 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions relate to food waste. If food waste were a country, it would be the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind the United States and China.
We waste an estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food every year – around one third of all food produced for human consumption. This scale of food waste leads to habitat destruction, decreased biodiversity and overuse of land and water. To combat the climate emergency and help protect our environment, we all need to reduce the amount of food we waste.
According to Zero Waste Scotland, avoidable food waste costs Scotland over £1 billion every year. Each year, Scottish households throw away over 600,000 tonnes of food waste. Some of the most commonly wasted food items are milk and bread. Every day, 270,000 glasses of milk go down the kitchen sink – that’s enough for 13 million cups of tea, or over half a million bowls of cereal every day.
Stopping avoidable food waste in Scotland alone would have the same environmental impact as taking 1 in 4 cars off the road – and could save households £440 a year on average.
Simple ways to avoid food waste
Here are some of our top tips for reducing food waste at home:
How to reduce food waste at home
Check the fridge!
Check what food you already have in your cupboards and fridge before going shopping.
Use meal plans
Write a weekly meal plan and only buy what you need – remember to include leftovers in your plan.
Use your freezer
Freezing food can extend its lifespan and stop it from going to waste.
Get to know your labels
‘Use by’ relates to food safety, whereas ‘best before’ relates to quality.
That means you can eat food after its best before date, if you think it’s still fresh but you shouldn’t eat food after its use by date.
Measure your food portions
Only make what you need to reduce waste – or have a plan for any leftovers.
Label and date your leftovers
Having an organised fridge and freezer lets you know clearly what is where and when you need to use it by.
Recycling food waste
Some food waste is unavoidable, like orange peels and eggshells, but it can be turned into energy by recycling. When you recycle food waste, a recycling plant turns it into fertilisers for local farms and green energy to power homes, using a process called anaerobic digestion. According to Greener Scotland, recycling your weekly food waste can power nearly two cycles of your washing machine and just one banana peel generates enough energy to charge your phone twice.
Energy Saving Trust and Zero Waste Scotland are working together to offer fun and interactive Love Food Hate Waste training sessions in workplaces. The workshops are funded by the Scottish Government and are available for any type and size of organisation based in Scotland.
The aim of the workshops is to give people an understanding of the scale and impact of food waste in Scotland, and practical skills around the simple things we can do to stop wasting food and save money. The message can then be cascaded to colleagues, community, friends and family to increase the reach.
An experienced trainer delivers the sessions at the workplace, at a time and date that suits. Each session lasts just over an hour and is ideal for lunchtime learning sessions. At the end of each workshop, the organisation and attendees receive a certificate, as well as a free food waste saving pack to take away.
“Every session engaged the staff with the global issue of food waste by making it real and relevant to them. The sessions were specially adapted to suit our schedule and needs. I would recommend this to anyone wanting to reduce their waste, save money and reduce their impact on the environment.”
Fiona Douglas, Energy and Sustainability Manager, Edinburgh Leisure
To find out more or, if you’re in Scotland and would like to arrange a workshop, email the team at [email protected]