Scots recycling more food to make green energy and cut emissions

Disposing of fruit and vegetable peel in the correct way can help to power Scottish homes. Picture: Getty
Disposing of fruit and vegetable peel in the correct way can help to power Scottish homes. Picture: Getty
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The amount of food waste being recycled in Scotland has jumped by 40 per cent in four years, the latest figures show.

Research from 2016 suggests nearly one million tonnes of uneaten food was being binned in Scotland every year.

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

IAIN GULLAND, 
ZERO WASTE SCOTLAND

The Scottish Government has laid out aims to reduce this by a third by 2025.

New reports from Zero Waste Scotland show around 158,500 tonnes of household and commercial solid food waste was collected in 2017 – up from 111,500 tonnes in 2013.

Once collected, food scraps are fed into anaerobic digestion plants and converted into renewable energy.

The rise in recycling has kept an extra 47,000 tonnes of uneaten food from being buried or burned, stopping an estimated 41,500 tonnes of greenhouse gases escaping into the atmosphere.

The emissions saved are equivalent to taking more than 22,000 cars off the road in the UK for a year.

The improved recycling rate has been welcomed.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “I am pleased to see a growing number of people across the country taking action to reduce food waste.

“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.”

She said a small change in daily routine could “make a big difference to the battle against climate change”.

Food waste is converted into electricity, heat and gas through anaerobic digestion.

In 2017 the Scottish anaerobic digestion sector produced an estimated 245,520 megawatt hours of electricity.

Around a third came of this came from food waste – enough to power nearly 20,000 homes.

Food waste is a major driver of global warming because of the huge resources and energy that go into producing it.

When left to rot in landfill, it emits methane – which is more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide in the short term.

Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said: “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.”