BLOG: Fight Festive Food Waste - says David Cunningham

23 December 2019
David Cunningham blog on Festive Food Waste

Festive Waste

Zero Waste Scotland claims the equivalent of 760 million mince pies will be thrown out by homes across Scotland in December.

“We waste an incredible amount of food over the holidays.  It’s disheartening  when you think of all the people who will go without this year.”

David Cunningham
Team Leader, Food Waste Recycling, Scottish Water Horizons
Christmas is almost upon us - parties are in full swing, shops are bursting with people on the hunt for last minute gifts and lights are twinkling in towns across Scotland.

One of my favourite parts of Christmas is the chance to catch up with friends and family over hearty festive food and a glass of wine or two. But with most of us striving to host the ‘perfect’ Christmas dinner, it’s very easy to go over the top with the amount of food we buy.
  
We waste an incredible amount of food over the holidays.  It’s disheartening  when you think of all the people who will go without this year.

According to Zero Waste Scotland around 50,000 tonnes of food and drink will be thrown out by homes across Scotland during December alone.

That equates to around 760 million mince pies, or 11.7 million turkeys! That’s an astonishing amount of waste in just one month.

That means money going down the drain and it’s not good news for the environment either.  The more waste that is sent to landfill, the more harmful greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change.

So whilst Christmas should still be a time for celebration, taking simple steps to tackle food waste can go a long, long way.

Here are my top tips for reducing festive food waste:

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

If you haven’t yet finished your food shopping it’s still worth considering how much food you still really need over the festive season. Do you really need those extra bags of potatoes or slabs of fruit cake?

Whether that’s making a list (and sticking to it), thinking about menus for each day or being careful with portion planning, preparation is key.

Get Savvy with Storage

Make sure there is enough room in your freezer to store either newly bought or leftover food over the festive period.  From turkey, mince pies, bread and fruit to vegetables, milk and cheese, freezing will keep left over food in tip top condition until it’s ready to be eaten at a later date.

Don’t Think `Leftovers’ - Think Ingredients

Get creative in the kitchen by rustling up tasty new meals with surplus festive food. Whether that’s turkey and ham pie, cranberry and cheese tart or Christmas pudding brownies, the internet is brimming with ideas to transform leftovers into delicious new dishes.

And remember, if you’re doing the cooking over Christmas, don’t pour fats, oils or greases down the sink – they will congeal and block the drains.

Don’t Forget Your Food Waste Caddy

Sometimes food waste is simply unavoidable.  Banana peel, egg shells, teabags and meat bones for example, can’t be consumed. So if you have a food waste caddy, remember to use it so that wasted food can be recycled into new products such as energy, compost or fuel.

Here, at our food waste recycling facility near Cumbernauld, we transform food waste into green electricity and heat.  By-product material known as ‘digestate’ can also be used as a natural fertiliser for agricultural use.

So why not take steps to reduce your food waste over the holidays?   You’ll save money, cut carbon and do your bit for the environment.

If everyone plays their part, then collectively we can go a long way to reducing Scotland’s food waste mountain this year.

Have a happy, sustainable Christmas!