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24 November 2016, 05:28
An estimated 1.35 million tonnes of food and drink - enough to fill more than 17 million wheelie bins - was wasted in 2013, according to a new report.
The figure, calculated by Zero Waste Scotland, will be used as the baseline for a Scottish Government target to reduce food waste by a third by 2025.
The research shows an estimated 600,000 tonnes of food waste was generated by households, while around 740,000 was from the commercial and industrial sectors.
Around 60% of household waste is classed as avoidable, while the cost of buying this food is around £1.1 billion a year - an average of £460 per household.
Around 38% of the waste comes from food manufacturing, while waste which occurred during primary production - "pre-farm gate waste'' - has not been included in the figure.
Food and drink production accounts for around one fifth of Scotland's carbon footprint.
Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: "The amount of food wasted in Scotland is staggering, which is why the Scottish Government has set a target to reduce food waste by 33% by 2025, one of the most ambitious targets of its kind.
"This research from Zero Waste Scotland, together with the work that we are doing to measure food that doesn't make it off the farm, will set the baseline against which we will measure our target.
"We will now collaborate with organisations from all sections of the supply chain to develop options for policy interventions to meet our target.''
Zero Waste Scotland also found there was a 5.7% reduction in household food waste between 2009 and 2014, which has resulted in savings to household budgets of #92 million.
The organisation's chief executive Iain Gulland said: "Our research shows for the first time the true scale of the challenge we face to achieve Scotland's ambitious food waste reduction target - but it's one we are determined to take on together. Tackling the scale of wasted food in our society is an economic, environmental and moral imperative.
"We have made a good start. Since putting the issue of food waste on the map we have worked to reduce household food waste, resulting in a 6% decrease.
"We're also providing small and medium sized businesses with dedicated advice and support to reduce their food waste and related costs.
"We look forward to working further with the Scottish Government and partners to develop additional priorities for action that will continue to influence behaviour, so that wasting food, at any level, is socially unacceptable.''