Scotland – King of Food Waste Segregation, and how the rest of the UK will be following suit.

Compared to the rest of the United Kingdom, Scotland is leading the way when it comes to the handling of food waste. By law, Scottish food waste must be separated from general waste and it seems likely that this practice will spread to all parts of the UK. Which is why it’s important to look at how Scotland handles food waste as a starting point for things to come.

Scotland’s Duty of Care

An explicit part of Scotland’s Duty of Care policy is that anyone producing waste take all the necessary steps to make sure that all food and general waste are separated, where possible, before collection for recycling or disposal.

This was made a legal necessity in 2012, through Scotland’s Waste Regulation Amendment, to Section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act of 1990. To put that in simpler terms, Scotland is trying to aid in the proper management and recycling of waste by improving on the government’s Zero-Waste Plan. These amendments include making sure producers and transporters of waste aid in the recycling of waste materials by increasing both the quality and quantity of the waste materials sent for recycling.

All local authorities in Scotland are responsible for assuring these laws are carried out by business owners. Failure to comply with the guidelines of the law (whilst being knowledgeable of it) can lead to either a fine of up to £10,000 for a single case conviction or an unlimited fine for convictions on indictment.

‘Dry recyclables’ are the only case in which mixed recycling is allowed, but only if the quality of materials are similar to each other. For instance, mixing paper and glass would be off-limits, and mixing food waste with other types of waste should be avoided completely. Businesses are encouraged to discuss how to dispose of dry recyclables with a contractor, who will advise them to assess their waste to check for contamination and will make recommendations going forward. To make checking the waste easier all business owners should use clear bags, with typical black bin bags being avoided entirely.

Food Waste Segregation

While the general public are exempt from these laws. Food waste regulations apply to almost all food businesses – defined as any businesses taking part in the production, preparation or selling of food. The major examples include restaurants, hotels, schools, nursing homes, pubs selling food and hospitals.
The only major exception to this rule is with rural food waste, or those producing less than 5kg of food waste per week, and sites operating to recover materials from waste products.

Benefits of This System

So, why is it that the UK is considering adopting Scotland’s plan?

It’s obvious that in an ideal world, many of the problems caused by waste wouldn’t exist. However, in our rather imperfect world the decomposition of many waste products, including food, over time leads to the release of Carbon Dioxide which damages the planet’s atmosphere. Combine this with the staggering rate that trees (which absorb this and many other harmful gases) are being cut down, the problem will only increase over time, therefore reducing food waste will hopefully begin to reduce the dangerous levels of harmful gasses in our environment.

Additionally, it also makes good financial sense for a business to segregate food and general waste. As reducing the waste within other bins, can lead to lower waste management costs as larger bins may no longer be necessary. With the right management, food segregation will improve your business’ cost-efficiency.

Top tips for the management of food waste.


1. Don’t overstock ingredients.

Only purchase the quantity of ingredients that are needed for your business use. Don’t be tempted to overbuy just because there’s a “good deal” on offer. If you won’t use the extra food or can’t store it correctly, then it will go to waste and will have cost your business more money.

2. Analyse your menu for waste.

Take a close look at your menu and identify the items that usually have the most leftovers consider reducing the portion size of these menu items or removing them from the menu altogether.

3. Store food at the correct temperature.

Storing food at the correct temperature is vital for avoiding excess waste, as it prevents the growth of harmful bacteria, which causes food to rot quicker, and can lead to food poisoning. This includes cooling hot food quickly, reheating food to the correct core temperature (at least 70°C for 2 minutes), storing high-risk food in fridges (1-4°C) and freezers (below -18°C), plus hot/cold holding at safe temperatures (above 63°C and below 8°C, respectively).

4. Organise your food stores.

Make sure containers for storing food are clearly labelled with use-by date information and a product description, and make use of the use the “First In, First Out” rule sale make sure that newer stock is routinely placed behind older stock, and the older stock will always be used up first before it has chance to go to waste.

5. Keep a stock inventory.

You should always know exactly which foods you always have in stock. Do this by keeping a detailed list of the foods in all your storage areas, including their use-by/best-before dates and quantities. This will avoid foods being forgotten about and going to waste but will also stop you re-ordering food unnecessarily.

6. Donate your leftovers.

Locate your local food bank or homeless charity and donate any leftover meals and ingredients to people who desperately need them. This ensures that your leftover food goes to a good home, rather than to waste.

7. Encourage customers to take leftovers home.

Offer your customers the option of a ‘doggy bag’ to take their leftover food home with them. While not every food can be packaged up for eating later, slices of pizza can easily be put into a take-away box and enjoyed later for a late-night snack (or even breakfast!).

8. Don’t provide trays.

If you offer a buffet service, try removing the option of trays. A lot of food waste can often be caused by people being a little too greedy at self-service counters. If people are only given plates, then they’re less likely to pick up extra dishes that they can’t carry and aren’t able to eat.

Contact us today if you would like to discuss your businesses waste management requirements.

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