Scotland

Food recycling in Scotland 'up by more than 40%'

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Recycling of food waste in Scotland has risen by more than 40% in recent years, according to Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS).

Approximately 158,500 tonnes of household and commercial solid food waste was collected and processed in 2017, compared with 111,500 in 2013.

Food waste that ends up in landfill rots and produces methane gas, one of the most damaging greenhouse gases driving climate change.

The Scottish government has pledged to reduce emissions to net-zero by 2045.

The additional increase in food waste sent for recycling (47,000 tonnes) has prevented the release of 41,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent being released into the atmosphere, according to ZWS, a government-funded body.

It says the figure is the equivalent of taking 22,004 cars off the road in the UK for a year or driving around the world 5,829 times.

The findings came from the Scottish anaerobic digestion (AD) and biogas sector survey 2017, as well as the Scottish composting sector survey 2017.

Producing electricity, heat and gas from food waste through AD allows the energy stored in food, that would otherwise be sent to landfill or incinerated, to be captured and broken down into biofuels.

'A shared, national endeavour'

Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said the recycling of more food waste into sustainable energy was "an incredible achievement" and "welcome news for Scotland's economy and for the planet".

"Of course, some food waste is inevitable - we can't escape waste of items like fruit and vegetable peel," he added.

"This result is fantastic, but think of all the energy that can be produced from the rest of our unavoidable food waste.

"We are living through a climate emergency and individuals can have a great impact without even leaving the kitchen by simply using their food waste caddy."

Since 2016, Scottish businesses producing more than 5kg of food waste per week have been required to present food waste separately for collection, while ZWS says 80% of Scottish households now have access to food waste recycling.

Environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham added: "Scotland's response to the global climate emergency must be a shared, national endeavour.

"We all need to do our bit to safeguard the planet for future generations - and reducing and recycling food waste is an easy but important way to do just this."

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