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Food waste feeds climate crisis

Zero Waste Scotland reveals just 1kg of food waste produces carbon emissions equivalent to landfilling 25k plastic bottles.

21 Oct 21

Zero Waste Scotland research revealed that the vast majority (86%) of Scots are unaware that food waste can be an even bigger contributor to climate change than plastic waste.

The not-for-profit body found that sending just a single kilogram of food waste to landfill produces the same carbon emissions as landfilling a staggering 25,000 500ml plastic bottles. They’re calling on people to take actions to reduce food waste, just as they are already doing for plastic.

As world leaders set to gather in Glasgow for The UN’s 26th Climate Change Conference (COP26) next month, the study shows that almost two thirds of Scots (63%) think reducing plastic use in their home is the best way of reducing their carbon footprint, when, in fact, food waste releases more emissions.

The ‘Blue Planet effect’ in recent years has led to positive action to reduce the impact plastic has on the environment, from packaging-free shops to a forthcoming Scottish Government ban on common single-use plastic items.

Highlighting the hidden carbon cost of food that goes uneaten, Zero Waste Scotland is on a mission to do the same for food waste.

The environmental body has teamed up with globally renowned, celebrity photographer, Rankin, for a soon-to-be-revealed food waste photography series that turns the lens on the scale of Scotland’s food waste epidemic.

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

“The sea change in attitudes to plastic over the last few years has been one of the most dramatic shifts in public consciousness around the environment we’ve ever seen. The same shift now needs to happen for food waste.

“Our research shows that most Scots think they are doing what they can for climate change, but the majority are unaware of the massive impact of food waste.

“We know people want to do their bit for the environment so our message is this – the easiest way you can fight climate change is by reducing the amount of food you waste. It’s as simple as that.”

Calling on Scots to take small actions to reduce food waste, Zero Waste Scotland’s top tips include:

  • Shop savvy – Over half of the food we throw away can be eaten so meal planning will help both your pockets and the planet.
  • Push pause – Freezing your food and being smarter with storage can help make the food you buy last longer.
  • Love leftovers – Get creative in the kitchen with leftovers to make the most of excess ingredients.

More information can be found at: wasteless.zerowastescotland.org.uk/articles/food-waste-plastic-waste


Notes For Editors

About Zero Waste Scotland

Zero Waste Scotland exists to create a society where resources are valued and nothing is wasted. Our goal is to help Scotland realise the economic, environmental and social benefits of making best use of the world’s limited natural resources. We are funded to support delivery of the Scottish Government’s circular economy strategy and the EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy. 

You can keep up to date with the latest from Zero Waste Scotland though via our social media channels - Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

Love Food Hate Waste is the consumer-facing campaign delivered by Zero Waste Scotland to raise awareness of the need to reduce food waste and help Scots take action. More information on Love Food Hate Waste Scotland can be found at scotland.lovefoodhatewaste.com or on Facebook.

YouGov Research

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1004 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 28th - 30th September 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scottish adults (aged 18+)

For media enquiries contact:

Lynne Webster
0131 555 6911

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