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How companies can keep Scotland beautiful, preserve our natural larder, find additional revenue streams, and become champions of environmental sustainability.

To sell Scotland as the land of food and drink, we need to protect our lands and waters. Reducing food and drink waste is one way to ensure our harvests remain globally competitive, and attractive to national and international markets.

Across Scotland, 1.35 million tonnes of food and drink are wasted every year. The majority of this food waste comes from households that currently produce 600,000 tonnes of waste. That's followed by the manufacturing sector with 510,000 tonnes, the foodservice and hospitality sector generating 54,000 tonnes, and retailers at 31,000 tonnes.

The Scottish Government plans to reduce food waste by 33% by 2025 and 50% by 2030, and all biodegradable municipal waste going to landfill will be banned by 2021. So, more food and drink companies are finding ways to factor waste management into their business plans.

Companies are innovating across the whole supply chain. Some are using recycling to turn waste into valuable end products, such as compost, fertilisers and renewable energy. While others are focusing on the vital value technology brings to farming methods. 

Where innovations are taking place 

Prospera uses technology to identify pests and diseases, and collect yield data from fields. This innovation helps farmers improve crops growth precisely, without wasting water or fertilisers, helping predict more efficient, environmentally friendly and resource saving food production. 

Food and drink manufacturers are recycling their by-products, creating new sustainable products. Some food businesses are turning fruit skin by-products into jams, relishes, snacks or spirit distilling, while breweries are increasingly using grain-based by-products to produce muesli bars or edible and sustainable packaging for marine sea life. 

Large retailers are recycling their food waste, donating it to food banks, or turning it into fuel or animal feed. The UK's biggest retailer, Sainsbury's, has introduced multiple waste management projects, including:

  • Recycling all its food waste without sending it to landfill
  • Using anaerobic digestion to provide enough electricity to power 2,500 homes each year
  • Running the ‘waste less, save more’ project targeting the household waste of their customers

Growth opportunities 

For Scotland’s food and drink sector there are opportunities to innovate and grow, and answer consumer concern about waste and the environment.

Looking at where opportunities for businesses lie, households are the biggest food waste sector, followed by food and drink manufacturing waste, which accounts for 20% of Scotland’s carbon footprint.  

With the commitment of the Scottish government, and our support for Scottish businesses around food and drink innovation, opportunities to reduce waste, and become more sustainable and profitable, apply across the entire food supply chain.

Through our Make Innovation Happen service, our Innovation Connectors offer free support to help you explore innovative ideas and develop them all the way through to market.

Contact our Innovation Connectors