Scots throw away an estimated 2.6 million slices of bread every day, but work is now underway to change date labels on food to encourage consumers to enjoy products for longer and to delay putting them in the bin.
Zero Waste Scotland said bread was one of the most common uneaten foods to be discarded, with 39,000 tonnes of bakery products worth some £78 million disposed of every year. By weight, fresh vegetables and salads account for around one-fifth of food thrown away in Scotland with around 70,000 tonnes of the produce – worth an estimated £150m – thrown out. The figures follow analysis of food waste recycling in the UK with the Scottish Government pledging to reduce food waste by 33 per cent by 2025.
Ylva Haglund, food waste campaigns manager at Zero Waste Scotland, said the figures were based on analysis of contents of thousands of household food waste caddies.
She said: “The really scary part of it is that most of this food waste is avoidable. While some of it is peelings and egg shells, around 60 per cent of it is avoidable. This food was edible at one time, it is not a waste product. It is estimated that 70 per cent of avoidable food waste is created because the products are not eaten in time.
“We are working with retailers to change some for the wording on food labels as we know it is confusing, particularly for young people, to know what that label really means. We want simpler, clearer date labelling and storage advice for consumers, which could help Scots cut the food thrown away from their homes every year.”
Ms Haglund said “use by” labels were the most important date labels and the only one which relates to food safety. Zero Waste Scotland is calling for only one date label to be used on packaging with stock control labels, such as “display until” to be removed.
Ms Haglund said the labels should also be changed to reflect that foods can be safely frozen right up until their “use by” date. Cutting food waste is seen as a key way of tackling climate change, given the huge amounts of energy gone into the production process.
She said: “Food waste is an urgent problem and as a country we need to deal with it.”