Can we be ‘Eurostars’ when it comes to reducing waste?

It’s European Week for Waste Reduction this week, which serves as a timely reminder of that all important first step on the waste hierarchy – reduce. 

Written By Iain Gulland - Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland  |  25 Nov 14

Recycling is now a mainstream, everyday activity for the majority of Scots and major efforts are underway to make re-use a similarly core part of people’s lives. 

The ‘reduce’ element might seem to the person in the street to be the least promoted of the 3 Rs. In reality, many major areas of Zero Waste Scotland’s work focus on waste reduction, though often by another name. The Love Food Hate Waste campaign is one of the most successful food waste reduction campaigns in the world, and our Resource Efficient Scotland programme has helped thousands of Scottish businesses to reduce their use of energy, water and raw materials.

European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) gives us a great opportunity to engage directly with people.  The theme for EWWR this year is food waste, and so Zero Waste Scotland is calling on workplaces, community groups, councils and individuals to hold a Waste-Free Lunch, as a way to showcase interesting and delicious ways that you can use up leftovers and food nearing its date by getting creative in the kitchen.

Waste-Free Lunches are happening up and down the country this week, with organisations including Glasgow Food Policy Partnership, Earthtime in Elgin, Centre for Stewardship in Falkirk, Transform Dundee, Orkney Zero Waste and many more, taking part.  Edinburgh University’s ‘Come Dine with Me’ society is running a ‘Come Dine Waste-Free’ event, Stirling University is holding a Waste-Free Dinner and the East Dunbartonshire Voluntary Action Group is holding a Waste-Free Breakfast for local young people. This activity has captured the imaginations of chefs, from amateurs right through to Scotland’s only double Michelin star chef, Andrew Fairlie, who supported the campaign by holding a Waste-Free Lunch at his Gleneagles restaurant.

Naturally, we’re holding our own lunch here in the Zero Waste Scotland office as well, alongside a host of other waste reduction events.  These include an electronic goods swap, PC repair workshop and a Love Your Clothes session to show staff how to make simple repairs to their clothes. We’re even holding a circular economy mattress challenge, with staff submitting the best ideas for how to design a mattress for the future that can be disassembled, recycled and made into a new mattress or other product.

We’re not alone in getting behind the week of activity of course. Organisations across Europe are participating, including many of Zero Waste Scotland’s close colleagues on the continent.

We got a chance to catch up with many of these colleagues in Berlin earlier this month, where the European Resources Forum was being held, which was also all about waste reduction, from a business point of view. Zero Waste Scotland was showcasing the work and learnings of our Resource Efficient Scotland programme, in helping Scottish businesses improve their resource efficiency – whether in terms of energy, water or waste – which can bring big savings. As we work ever-more closely with European counterparts on this agenda, it was extremely heartening for colleagues to hear that so many people were aware of the work we are doing in Scotland, and interested to find out more.

International co-operation will be very important as we strive to make progress on reducing waste across the board, and work towards a more circular economy.

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