New report finds recycling food waste is crucial for fighting climate change

food waste
Food waste

A new report by Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) has found that the fight against climate change begins at home and that less waste and more recycling, especially of food waste, are crucial to reduce our carbon impact. 

ZWS has developed an innovative tool called Carbon Metric which shows how waste reduction and sustainable waste management plays a crucial role for tackling climate change.  


The tool measures the whole-life carbon impacts of Scotland’s waste, from resource extraction manufacturing emissions to waste management emissions.  

This year’s REB Market Intelligence Summit is taking place on 2 October and will look at end destinations for materials. Find out more here 

It showed that in 2017 Scottish households reduced the amount of waste they produced and recycled more of their waste than ever before.  

This resulted in the lowest carbon impacts for household waste since the Carbon Metric began measuring in 2011.  

For the first time, the Carbon Metric is being implemented directly into the official reporting on Scottish household waste data statistics.  

ZWS has also published the 2016 Carbon Metric, and both reports show: 

  • Food waste contributes more to Scotland’s waste carbon impacts than any other waste type, so it is important to avoid wasting food and recycle the waste we can’t avoid 
  • Food waste comprised 16% of household waste in 2017, and despite an overall reduction in household food waste, Scots recycled more food waste than ever before 
  • In total, Scottish households stopped nearly 100,000 tonnes of food waste from going in the residual waste bin 
  • The increase in recycling rates is due to more household food waste recycling collections being rolled out. 

As it includes data from households and commercial and industrial sectors, the 2016 report also shows the disproportionate impacts of household waste, on the carbon impacts of Scotland’s total waste.  

While household waste only made up 25% of Scotland’s waste by weight, it made up 55% of the total waste carbon impacts, showing that recycling household waste is vital.  

ZWS chief executive Iain Gulland said: “The fight against climate change really does begin at home. Our Carbon Metric, which for the first time now forms part of Scotland’s official reporting on waste, shows the crucial role householders can play in preventing waste and recycling more of their waste, particularly food waste, and how significant an impact that will have on reducing our climate changing emissions. This report gives extra resonance to our message during Recycle Week 2018, when we are urging Scots to recycle as much as they can from all around the home.” 


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