Food Waste Reduction Target

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 27 March 2024.

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Photo of Annie Wells Annie Wells Conservative

8. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on any progress towards meeting its target of reducing food waste by 33 per cent by 2025. (S6O-03267)

Photo of Lorna Slater Lorna Slater Green

Scotland is not on track to meet its target, due to an increase in food waste levels, which has been observed across the United Kingdom. To accelerate progress towards our 50 per cent reduction target in 2030, the Scottish Government has committed to resetting its approach. As proposed in the Circular Economy (Scotland) Bill, our refreshed approach will include the mandatory public reporting of waste and surplus by businesses. We also have ambitions to target household food waste, and we aim to deliver a behaviour change intervention plan to enhance support for householders and enable them to take action.

Photo of Annie Wells Annie Wells Conservative

The Government has failed to meet recycling targets. At the current pace, it is set to miss further recycling targets, such as to have a maximum of 5 per cent of waste to landfill and a minimum of 70 per cent recycling of waste by 2025. Given last week’s devastating report by the Climate Change Committee, what confidence does the Government have that it will meet all six of its targets by 2025?

Photo of Lorna Slater Lorna Slater Green

The member is right about the challenge of meeting the existing targets, which is why we are resetting our approach through the Circular Economy (Scotland) Bill and our waste route map, both of which have significant measures in them to improve our reuse and our recycling, and to help us to meet the targets that we need to meet to achieve net zero for Scotland.

Photo of Gordon MacDonald Gordon MacDonald Scottish National Party

Recent major food organisations have warned that new Brexit border rules could cut the shelf life of fresh fruit from mainland Europe by a fifth and leave some deliveries from the European Union unsaleable. Does the minister share those concerns, and has the Scottish Government made any assessment of the impact of Brexit border rules on increased food waste?

Photo of Lorna Slater Lorna Slater Green

I share the member’s concerns. Although the model is imperfect and might have an impact on food imports from the EU and on food waste because of Brexit, we must introduce import controls to deliver biosecurity protections for Scotland. We have repeatedly called for the UK Government to sign a veterinary agreement with the EU, which would remove many of those barriers. We will actively monitor the implementation of the first physical checks on some goods, which will start on 30 April.

We are finally getting the opportunity to see legislation. I presented one of the first pieces of associated legislation to Parliament just last week, and I am clear that the UK Government’s process for introducing this fundamental change in how we import goods from the EU is severely lacking. The UK Government has had years to prepare for it, but, like everything that it has done on Brexit, it appears to be making it up as it goes. There is no doubt that that negligence has created unnecessary barriers and costs to trade. Scotland, our communities and our businesses are paying the price.

Photo of Foysol Choudhury Foysol Choudhury Labour

Last year, I visited Empty Kitchens Full Hearts in Edinburgh, which is an organisation that creates meals for vulnerable people using surplus food. Surplus food sharing can help to fight food poverty and reduce food waste. Will the minister outline how the Scottish Government is encouraging businesses to join the surplus food scheme?

Photo of Lorna Slater Lorna Slater Green

The member is absolutely right. I know that he volunteers and is very active in this area. During a cost of living crisis, waste food costs a four-person family around £1,000 a year. For people who are unable to access food, organisations such as FareShare, which share out surplus food, are vital. Since 2021, the Scottish Government has provided around £1.4 million of funding to FareShare, and we are delighted with the work that it does.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

That concludes portfolio questions on wellbeing economy, net zero and energy. There will be a short pause to allow front-bench teams to change positions, should they so wish.