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Full circle recycling reaps rewards for Aberdeen eaterie

Introducing doggy boxes for leftovers and watering the garden with lager are just two actions promoting savings and sustainability at the Mains of Scotstown's Inn

When it comes to welly-to-belly sustainability, Mains of Scotstown Inn, a family-run inn and eaterie in Aberdeen, has it covered. It has launched a series of innovative waste-saving, reputation-boosting measures that have added up to big savings. These include the introduction of doggy boxes, installation of a wormery and growing cider-fed mint in the garden.

Mains of Scotstown is a substantial enterprise, with a capacity for up to 220 covers. It has reduced food waste through some clever but simple ideas that any small restaurant can try. For example:

  • Doggy boxes – recycled cardboard boxes that encourage guests to take home uneaten leftovers;
  • Wormery – a vessel of worms that takes care of remaining leftovers. For a one-off cost of £700, Mains' wormery now transforms food scraps into highly nutritious compost for the on-site herb, fruit and flower garden;
  • Beer and cider fertilizer – making use of the inevitable beer and cider slops. The mint plants are topped up with cider, giving them a distinctive apple taste. The parsley is nourished with John Brown's Ale. The rest of the garden is treated to the leftover lager.

This popular pub has realised further savings via the local economy. It sources all its food within a 50-mile radius, which drives down transport costs. It sells its used vegetable oil to a local contractor to make biodiesel and soap. It then buys back the soap and biodiesel for use in the business.

Mains of Scotstown collects all used food and drink cans to sell to a local scrap merchant for a good price. And sorts other recyclable waste – such as glass, cardboard and plastic – ready for collection by Aberdeen City Council. The collection fee is offset by money made from recycling cans.

“We have a policy where we refuse anything from suppliers which we can’t recycle,” says Martin Young, the company's director. “Waste collection costs are so expensive. As a hospitality business we need to be smarter in how we use our resources and use them to best effect. Recycling waste really is a no brainer. It makes great business sense. All of our activity is showing savings of just under £8,000 a year.”

It has also given their reputation a boost. Mains of Scotstown has become the first Scottish inn to win three stars from the Sustainable Restaurant Association. Not bad for a family-run business.

Key to its success is a staff committed to sustainability and motivated by bonuses if targets are met. The business actually employs a part-time Sustainability Supervisor who is responsible for managing all the inn’s waste recycling, and its energy and water-saving schemes.

“My staff are all champions of the sustainable way in which the pub now operates,” says Young.

It’s no surprise that Zero Waste Scotland’s director, Iain Gulland, describes Mains of Scotstown as “a great example of a hospitality business which has put sustainability right at the heart of its operations”.

Its focus on local is also a great example of circular economy working. Here at Zero Waste Scotland, we have an extensive network of businesses and contractors. If you want to connect with others in your area, to work more efficiently and less wastefully, we can help. Contact our advice and support service to see how you can make similar savings to your business, whatever your size.

If you are interested in becoming our latest case study by finding additional ways you can reduce food waste and save money, why not contact our advice and support service to discuss our free food and drink opportunity assessments.

Call 01786 433 930 or email food.drink@zerowastescotland.org.uk

Find out about our Good to Go Doggy Bag Initiative which has been developed to change the culture around leftovers and save food from the bin

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