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£166m bill for wasted food in Scottish hospitality sector

21 Nov 2013

• New report identifies scale and cost of food waste – most of which could have been eaten

• New regulations will force businesses to recycle food waste from 1 January 2014.  Help available from Resource Efficient Scotland


Scotland’s hospitality and food service sector is facing an annual bill of £166 million for food waste, a new report revealed today.

The new report from WRAP, Overview of waste in the UK hospitality and food service sector, considers the costs and impacts associated with food purchase and waste management, as well as energy, transport, water and labour inputs, giving a complete picture of the cost of waste.

Organisations are being urged to take action ahead of new recycling rules which come into force on 1st January 2014.  Under the Waste (Scotland) Regulations all organisations, both in the public and private sector, are required to separate paper, card, glass, plastic, and metal for recycling.  Many organisations which produce or sell food will also have to recycle their food waste.


Other key findings from the report include:

• The total annual waste including food, packaging and other waste produced across the sector is 266,200 tonnes. Of this, 45% is recycled, sent to anaerobic digestion or composted.

• Total food waste accounts for 85,600 tonnes of this overall figure.

• 75% of all food wasted was avoidable and could have been eaten. Food waste generally arises from three main areas: 21% due to spoilage, 45% from food preparation and 34% from consumer’s plates.


Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance said:

“This research shows us just how expensive waste really is to our sector and a threat to Scottish tourism’s future growth. The Scottish Tourism Alliance welcomes its publication and recognises its significance as we work to strengthen the sustainability of our industry through the Tourism Scotland 2020 strategy. I’d encourage you to use the free support from programmes such as Resource Efficient Scotland to help improve these results and work towards realising our goal of a more sustainable tourism sector in Scotland by 2020, one that is more competitive and profitable as well as environmentally and socially responsible.”


Iain Gulland, Director of Zero Waste Scotland, said:

“New regulations in Scotland mean many hospitality operators will have to recycle their food waste from January – but there are bigger financial savings to be made from reducing food waste in the first place.

“Today’s report gives the fullest picture of the scale of that opportunity, and outlines practical ways the industry can reduce waste.  By understanding how and why food waste is created in their operations, organisations can take action to reduce waste and save money.”


Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said:

“Food waste is a global challenge which all of us have a responsibility to address – this applies in both the public and private sectors.  We’ve already done a lot to drive both the recycling and prevention of food waste, with last year’s campaign and £20 million investment in food waste collection.

“This report highlights that there are areas where we need to focus attention to achieve the greatest benefit – this will be important both for our continuing work through the HAFS Agreement and for the support provided to public sector organisations by Resource Efficient Scotland.  Our new waste regulations will also be another key step in the recycling of food waste.”


22 Scottish-based organisations have already signed up to the Hospitality and Food Service Agreement, a UK-wide voluntary agreement to reduce waste.  Signatories, who also include leading UK food service and hotel chains, have committed to action against two targets:  • Waste Prevention: to reduce food and associated packaging waste arising by 5% by the end of 2015 against a 2012 baseline; measured by CO2e emissions. • Waste Management: to increase the overall rate of food and packaging waste being recycled, sent to anaerobic digestion (AD) or composted to at least 70% by the end of 2015.

Scottish public sector and private sector businesses can get help to reduce waste and cut costs from Resource Efficient Scotland, by visiting or by calling 0808 808 2268.

Last Modified: Monday 01 August 2016 09:36
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