Scotland's first Food and Drink Industry Environmental Sustainability Strategy launched

Scotland Food & Drink have launched the first pan-industry strategy for the Scottish food and drink industry which articulates its Environmental Sustainability Ambition and builds on existing work already being undertaken by businesses across a wide range of sectors.

8 Feb 13

The official launch of the Environmental Ambition for the Scottish food and drink industry took place in the Great Hall at Edinburgh Castle, attended by over 100 delegates representing Scottish food and drink businesses, Scotland Food & Drink and 19 industry partners of the organisation following the Scottish Food and Drink Sustainability Conference hosted with Zero Waste Scotland.

The Scottish food and drink industry has been identified as a priority sector in delivering sustainable economic growth. The industry target of £12.5bn by 2017 will be surpassed early given the current value of £12.4bn, while exports have grown by more than 50% in the last five years.

The new strategy recognises the importance of sustainability to the future of the Scottish food and drink industry to deliver its growth ambition. It aims to drive the industry to become environmentally and economically sustainable while promoting the sharing of best practice and collaborative working to achieve its objectives across the supply chain.

The Scottish Government and Zero Waste Scotland welcomed the strategy and the work Scotland Food & Drink and partners will be doing to proactive encourage the industry to realise the benefits of sustainability in their businesses, working closely with partners to ensure the appropriate support and access to the partners’ accumulated knowledge and experience is available.

The strategy focuses on five core themes which concern the efficient use of resources, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, waste (including recycling and sending less to landfill), reducing the impact of transport and making businesses more resilient to climate change. A set of commitments have been set in order to benchmark progress against the sustainability ambition annually.

Scotland Food & Drink will continue to work with other stakeholders including retailers and foodservice companies so they can help businesses adapt and respond where required, similar to the on-going work being undertaken with M&S and their Scottish suppliers.
Sustainability is a prevalent theme within the Industry Strategy Action Plan and will be implemented through the SF&D partnership and Industry Champions network which includes Gavin Hewitt of the SWA, who heads up the Sustainability work.

James Withers Scotland Food & Drink Chief Executive comments:

"A commitment to sustainability is the mark of a progressive industry and this is the first collaborative strategy with the input of all food and drink sectors. Being sustainable means two things for the industry: a significant and growing contribution to the Scottish economy and responsible stewardship of our environment to the benefit of our reputation and growth.

“As a Land of Food and Drink, Scotland has some of the best natural produce in the world. Our growing list of customers know that Scottish produce represents quality derived from an environment boasting beautiful unspoilt landscapes, clean air and pure water. By continuing to protect our natural heritage, we underpin our future economic success."

Welcoming the launch, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead said:

“Scotland’s Food and Drink Industry makes a huge contribution to our society and our economy - through its enterprise, innovation and reputation at home and abroad.  

“The Scottish Government is passionate about maximising the high-quality food Scotland produces while ensuring that its production is sustainable and not wasteful. In a future of global uncertainty around water supply and food security, Scotland is blessed which comparatively rich resources. However, the need to manage these carefully and protect them has never been more clear.  

“Scotland Food & Drink’s collaboration with Zero Waste Scotland and many others across industry and the public sector is increasingly important as we seek to grow our economy while protecting our environment.”

The Scottish Sustainable Food and Drink Conference was an important opportunity to highlight the benefits of being more resource efficient and reducing waste in contributing to sustainable economic growth, and the support and advice available to the industry. Working together at all stages of the supply chain is one of the ways businesses can achieve results and benefit.

Zero Waste Scotland is supporting a UK-wide responsibility deal, the Courtauld Commitment, which is aimed at reducing the environmental impact of the grocery retail sector and encourages a joined-up approach. The conference delegates heard about the second phase of the Commitment, which began in 2010 and has already delivered a number of successes for individual businesses, their customers and wider society.

Iain Gulland, Director, Zero Waste Scotland said:

“The Scottish food and drink industry has made significant progress in becoming more sustainable through collaborative approaches such as this one and I welcome the new strategy to further the ambition of the sector in what it can do to value resources and make the best use of them.

“With the introduction of new Waste (Scotland) Regulations next year, and the third stage of the Courtauld Commitment set to launch this spring, there’s never been a more important time to consider the way the industry views waste – seeing it not as a problem to be dealt with, but as a valuable resource which could reduce bottom line costs and help meet customers’ expectations around sustainability.

“It’s essential to provide opportunities to share best practice and work together to reduce waste at all stages of the supply chain. In providing the industry with access to funding and help, advice and training Zero Waste Scotland can do this and we are keen to ensure that any firm in the sector can benefit from our support.”

Notes For Editors

Notes to Editors:

  • Scotland Food & Drink is an industry-led, commercially-focused membership organisation which aims to grow the value of the country's food and drink sector to £12.5bn by 2017 and its vision is to build Scotland’s international reputation as a 'Land of Food and Drink'
  • Partners shaping the strategy are Dairy UK, HIE, Improve, NFUS, QMS, SWA, SRUC, SAOS, Scottish Bakers, SDI, SE, SFDF, SSPO, Lantra, Seafish, AHDB, Seafood Scotland, The Rowett Institute of Health & Nutrition, SDS and Zero Waste Scotland.
  • Zero Waste Scotland works with businesses, communities, individuals and local authorities to help them reduce waste, recycle more and use resources sustainably. Zero Waste Scotland is funded by the Scottish Government to support the delivery of its Zero Waste Plan. More information on all Zero Waste Scotland’s programmes can be found at
  • The Courtauld Commitment is a responsibility deal aimed at improving resource efficiency and reducing the carbon and wider environmental impact of the grocery retail sector. For more information visit



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