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Blog Post 18 March 2021

Tips to help you avoid food waste on Global Recycling Day

by Faith Pashley

Food waste is a global problem, and one that we want to highlight on Global Recycling Day. When food breaks down at landfill sites, it releases harmful greenhouse gases like methane into the atmosphere. Approximately 8-10% 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 US 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, as  Scottish households throw away over 600,000 tonnes of food waste annually. 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 one in four cars off the road – and could save households £437 a year on average.

Simple ways to reduce food waste at home

  • 01

    Check the fridge

    Check what food you already have in your cupboards and fridge before going shopping.

  • 02

    Use meal plans

    Write a weekly meal plan and only buy what you need – remember to include leftovers in your plan.

  • 03

    Use your freezer

    Freezing food can extend its lifespan and stop it from going to waste.

  • 04

    Get to know your labels

    ‘Use by’ relates to food safety, whereas ‘best before’ relates to quality. 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.

  • 05

    Measure your food portions

    Only make what you need  to reduce waste – or have a plan for any leftovers.

  • 06

    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 for workplaces. The online 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 online, at a time and date that suits. Each session can be tailored to suit the organisation and is ideal for lunchtime learning sessions and home workers. By the end of each workshop, attendees will be able to save £437 a year by putting their new learning into action and reducing food waste at home.

“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]

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Last updated: 23 March 2021