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Scottish economy could be boosted by up to £800 million from fish, beer and whisky waste and by-products.

30 Jun 15

Waste from the food and drink industry – specifically from the beer, whisky and fish & shellfish sectors – could help the Scottish economy tap into an estimated £500 million to £803 million each year Food Secretary Richard Lochhead announced today.

A report, published by Zero Waste Scotland, found that by better utilising the waste and by-products produced by the industry, Scotland’s economy could stand to grow massively year-on-year.

Research indicates that the bio-waste and by-products can be used for a number of other things including aquaculture and animal feeds, fertiliser and protein food supplements.

Mr Lochhead said:

“This is another ground-breaking report published by Zero Waste Scotland that demonstrates how a circular economy can contribute towards business efficiency and profitability.

“The potential boost this could give Scotland’s economy is staggering – up to £803 million each year. Our food and drink industry is already outshining the rest of the UK, imagine what making the most of the sector’s waste and by-products will do.

“Whisky draff and pot ale by-products have a range of uses: not only can they be used as an animal feed for our cattle sector, but could also be used by the aquaculture sector, to reduce the need for other forms of protein supplements that require to be imported, as well as creating new by-products such as fuel oil and fertiliser.

“This presents the Scottish Government with an excellent opportunity to work with stakeholders, in the three sectors identified and the wider bio-based sectors, on a strategic approach to developing a robust and extensive bio-based circular economy in Scotland. I am encouraged by the potential opportunities this study offers Scottish businesses as a way to maximise their profitability and minimise their waste.”

The circular economy study identifies the level of bio-based waste and by-products within the three sectors identified. Each year the beer sector produces around 54,000 tonnes of bio-based waste and by-products; the whisky sector more than four million tonnes and the fish & shellfish sector an estimated 190,000 tonnes.

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland, said:

“Our latest report highlighting the tremendous potential of the circular economy examines how key sectors of Scotland’s economy can reap big benefits from adopting more circular practices, particularly with regard to making better use of industrial by-products elsewhere in the economy, not just discarding them. Keeping these leftover materials in productive use for as long as possible is a great example of the circular economy in action.

“Zero Waste Scotland is focused on helping industry and agriculture realise these opportunities, to the overall benefit of the Scottish economy and jobs, through targeted work with the bio-economy sector and other key sectors in Scotland as we continue to work to unlock the benefits of the circular economy.”


Notes For Editors

Zero Waste Scotland is funded by the Scottish Government to support the delivery of its Zero Waste Plan and other low carbon and resource efficiency policy priorities.

This latest study published by Zero Waste Scotland is part of the Scottish Government’s evidence programme with Zero Waste Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and SEPA, to understand how a more circular economy could operate in Scotland the potential benefits.

Contact information

SG Communications


Claire Stanley


The full report can be found here: www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/BeerWhiskyFish

The sector study on beer, whisky and fish recognises that there is strong growth potential in these three sectors and also challenges in meeting future growth targets.

Forty two stakeholders were interviewed as part of this project – sector bodies, trade associations, research organisations and individual beer, whisky and fish businesses. This provided insights into both the realities and the opportunities relating to the wastes and by-products of the three sectors.

The Carbon Impacts of a Circular Economy report issued earlier this month by Zero Waste Scotland revealed that a more circular Scottish economy could reduce territorial emissions by 11 million tonnes CO2e per year by 2050. Previous work by Zero Waste Scotland found that the remanufacturing industry in Scotland has the potential to grow rapidly, from its current value of £1.1 billion to the Scottish economy. The full report can be found here: www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/remanufacturingreport

Ideas and key findings from this study will be fed into the Scottish Government’s forthcoming Circular Economy Roadmap consultation.

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