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Food waste in Inverness is Good to Go

Food waste in Inverness is Good to Go
A Scottish Government scheme that provides restaurants with ‘doggy bag’ boxes in an effort to cut down on food waste has launched in Inverness and the Highlands today (20 January).

The launch of the ‘Good to Go’ scheme, managed by Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS), follows a successful pilot scheme in 2014 that trialled the new boxes in a bid to end the ‘stigma’ associated with asking for a ‘doggy bag’, and saw an average 42 per cent reduction in food waste across participating restaurants.

Restaurateurs throughout the region are being urged to sign up to the initiative, which provides free ‘Good to Go’ boxes for leftovers. According to ZWS, two-fifths of diners say they are too embarrassed to ask restaurant staff for a ‘doggy bag’, yet three-quarters of those surveyed stated that they would welcome being offered the option.

The 2014 pilot scheme ran in 16 restaurants in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Irvine and East Kilbride, with over 1,400 containers being given out over the eight-week trial. The restaurants offered and promoted the boxes on posters and table-top adverts as well as through staff talking to diners.

Of those diners who took their food home with them during the trial, 92 per cent stated that they later ate the leftovers. ZWS calculates that if restaurants across Scotland adopted the scheme, it could save ‘almost 800,000 full meals’ from going to waste every year.

Any restaurant or food business of small to medium size in Scotland can apply to sign up to ‘Good to Go’ and receive a free starter pack of branded boxes, which are also referred to as ‘doggy bags’.

Diners are also being asked to contact their favourite restaurants via Twitter and Facebook to tell them they would like to see the ‘Good to Go’ service offered.

The scheme ‘removes any uneasiness’ with asking for a ‘doggy bag’

Matthew Bohdaniec manager of Inverness restaurant The Mustard Seed, which recently signed up to ‘Good to Go’, said that the scheme “completely removes any uneasiness that customers have about asking to take their food leftovers away with them”.

He added: “We’re very conscious of the significant environmental harm caused by food waste, which is why we do everything we can to minimise or recycle it.

“Of course, in an ideal world, we would prepare only what’s required in the first place – but in the restaurant trade it can often be very difficult to predict differing appetites. As part of Good to Go, our staff will politely encourage diners to consider taking away any food they can’t manage to eat during their visit.

“Good to Go will enable us, as responsible business owners, to help the environment, keep waste to a minimum and save money longer-term.”

Ylva Haglund, Food Waste Campaigns Manager at ZWS, added: “Good to Go is designed to make the action of asking for a ‘doggy bag’ a regular restaurant request in Scotland – as regular as asking for the bill.

“Additional feedback from the restaurants suggested that the pilot also prompted them to implement additional food waste reduction measures, such as adjusting portion sizes, changing menu options, and checking if diners actually wanted sides such as chips or vegetables before serving them.”

Scotland’s restaurants throw away ‘one in six meals’

Environment Secretary, Richard Lochhead said that Scotland’s restaurants ‘currently throw away the equivalent of one in every six meals they serve’.

He added: “The successful Good to Go pilot showed that there’s a real appetite throughout Scotland to reduce restaurant food waste and save money by removing the perceived uncertainty or embarrassment surrounding the process of making the ‘doggy bag’ request.

“I want to see as many food businesses in Scotland as possible signing up to Good to Go, and I very much look forward to seeing more and more restaurants adopting the Good to Go approach – starting with Inverness – as the word spreads.”

Le gourmet bag

This is the second time that doggy bags have been in the news this year, after French restaurants were recommended to provide ‘le doggy bag’ as part of new legislation that came into effect at the beginning of the year, despite the large ‘cultural obstacles’ associated with requesting one.

A survey conducted in the Southeast of France in 2014 found that while 75 per cent of French people are open to the idea, 70 per cent have never taken leftovers with them after eating out.

In an attempt to make the practice more palatable to French customers, the use of the term ‘le gourmet bag’ is being promoted instead.

More information on ZWS’s Good to Go scheme or the pilot report can be found at the ZWS website.

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