Scottish households throw away around 600,000 tonnes of food waste every year, that's the weight of about 2,000 Kelpies statues!  Any food thrown in the bin is taken to landfill to rot, producing harmful greenhouse gases and contributes to damaging the planet.

But when food waste is recycled it can be converted into valuable fertilisers and green energy that helps power Scotland’s homes.  Finding ways to shop smarter and plan meals can help reduce the amount of foods thrown in the bin and potentially save Scottish households up to £440 a year. This would benefit the environment as much as taking almost a fifth of cars off the road!

Any uneaten foods can be recycled in the food bin, including dairy, fruit/vegetables and peelings, meat, fish, shells and bones, eggs and eggshells, tea bags and coffee ground and also pet food.

People planned and managed their food better in 2020 during the pandemic and online searches for ‘Food Waste’ by Scots increased by 89% on last year! But more action is needed to help Scotland reach net zero and stop contributing to climate change. By reducing and recycling food waste we can all play our part in cutting emissions.

Edinburgh Community Food Stall, Western General Hospital

Ways to Prevent Food Waste

Meal Plan

  • Check cupboards/fridge/freezer before you write your shopping list.
  • Poor planning can lead to purchasing unnecessary foods and impulse buys.
  • You’re also less likely to buy convenience meals and takeaways and eat healthier if something is planned and the ingredients are there.

At the shop

  • If there's not many in the household, buy loose fruit and veg. This way you will only use what you need.
  • Only buy 2 for 1 deals on things you know you'll use or things that will last.

At home

  • Check cupboards every now and again to check dates. Plan meals with anything that needs used soon.
  • Cook foods with shorter life earlier in the week.
  • If you’re making something which includes ingredients you won't likely use again (eg. curries) bulk cook and freeze portions.
  • Making extra and eating the next day or freezing also saves on energy bills and time. There's also a spare meal in freezer when struggling on food ideas.
  • Storing your food correctly can also help prevent foods rotting quickly.


Left to Right: Jo Howie ANutr (Food and Health Development Officer, Edinburgh Community Food), Rachel Green (Director, The Ripple), Lorna Slater MSP (Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity), Iain Gulland (CEO, Zero Waste Scotland)

Common Wasted Foods


  • Storing apples in the fridge will keep them longer than storing in a fruit bowl.
  • Sliced apples can be quickly cooked in boiling water and then frozen. Apples past their best can be used in homemade pickles and chutneys.


  • Best stored in a cool area like the cupboard and kept away from other fruits to prevent them from ripening quickly.
  • If your bananas start to go black, you can peel and freeze them to use later.


  • Keep bread in a cool, dry place in original packaging or in the freezer.
  • Breads and bakery products can last 2-7 days after their Best Before date. If it feels and looks the same as when you bought it, it's good to eat. If mould is present, do not use.
  • Try using stale bread as breadcrumbs, which can be used for pasta bakes, stuffing and crumbles.


  • All cheese should be kept in the fridge in airtight containers or sealed with a clip in its original packaging. Soft cheeses also need to kept well wrapped.
  • Never finish a block of hard cheese? Grate first and keep in the freezer.
  • Stale hard cheeses can be used over pasta dishes or chilli. Soft cheeses can be added to omelettes and frittatas.


  • Keep in a cool, dry and dark place and consider buying loose potatoes.
  • Any leftover potatoes? You can roast boiled potatoes straight from the freezer

Freezer Advice

  • Don’t refreeze raw meats and fish.
  • To prevent the chance of food poisoning, foods should be reheated only once after defrosting.
  • Allow foods to defrost fully in the fridge.
  • To reduce waste, only take out foods from the freezer you plan to use within the next 24 hours.

Finding recipes to use up leftovers can make your money and your food go further. Try for tips on reducing your food waste and recipes for leftovers.