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Food Waste

Food waste facts

We all throw more food away than we should. We buy more food than we need, then cook or prepare portions that we can’t finish.

Or we let good food go off rather than use it up in time. But it’s easy for all of us to reduce our food waste. The foods we frequently waste are: fresh fruit and vegetables (including salad), drinks, and bakery products, like bread.

Read more about how to stop wasting food.

View more of our 'If everyone in Scotland' videos.

Figures provided by the Zero Waste Scotland.

It’s best not to throw food away, but sometimes there are bits we don’t eat that you can avoid wasting by composting or by using a food waste recycling service. You wouldn’t want to eat a banana skin, an avocado stone or tea bags!

We can reduce almost two thirds of our food waste if we plan a little bit better. Some of the food that we put in our household bins never even makes it out of the packet. Food thrown out whole or unopened costs the average household over £128 a year.

How much food goes to waste?

Every year 380,000 tonnes of food and drink are thrown away which didn’t have to be – this costs the Scottish public over £1bn every year.  

We can all do something to reduce this huge amount of food waste.

Avoidable food waste - top five foods we waste (by weight)

*Statistics throughout this section of Greener Scotland are taken from The Food We Waste in Scotland, 2009, unless otherwise noted.

Other commonly wasted foods

  • Fruit juice – 13,000 tonnes per year
  • Homemade meals – 13,000 tonnes a year
  • Yoghurt and yoghurt drinks – 9,700 tonnes a year
  • Apples – 9,600 tonnes a year
  • Mixed vegetables – 7,700 tonnes a year

What kinds of food do we throw away most?

  • Fresh fruit – We throw away £70 million-worth of fresh fruit every year. That’s equivalent to an apple a day for every schoolchild and teacher in Scotland for 18 months.
  • Fresh vegetables – We waste 62,000 tonnes of vegetables every year.  That’s an average of 26kg a year for every household in Scotland - the equivalent of a whole weekly shop.
  • Drink -  Scottish households throw away an estimated 70 million litres of drinks every year.  That would fill 175,000 bathtubs, right to the brim.
  • Meat and fish – Scotland’s households throw away £130 million-worth of meat and fish waste every year. It’s enough to make every person in Scotland a bacon butty every Saturday for the next year!
  • Bakery – Every day in Scotland we throw away the equivalent of 2.6 million slices of bread.
  • Dairy – Every year, Scotland’s households throw away £93 million-worth of dairy waste. That's enough for everyone in Scotland to have milk on their cereal for the next six months.