Resource Use

‘Doggy bags’ pilot aims to cut restaurant food waste

(L-R):  Zero Waste Scotland’s food waste expert Ylva Haglund and Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead at the Two Fat Ladies at The Buttery, Glasgow. Picture courtesy of Sandy Young Photography.

Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) has today (20 March) launched a new trial to ‘end the stigma associated with asking for a “doggy bag”’ in a bid to reduce the volume of food waste produced by Scottish restaurants.

Launched at participating restaurant Two Fat Ladies at The Buttery in Glasgow, the ‘Good to Go’ Scheme is being piloted in restaurants in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Irvine, and gives diners the option to take home their unfinished food in ‘branded take-home containers’, also known as ‘doggy bags’.

With the branding on display in restaurants, ZWS hopes the pilot will promote the option of take-home containers in a ‘very visible way,’ and make taking leftovers home more ‘socially acceptable’.  

Launching the project today, Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “It’s remarkable that the equivalent of one in six meals served in restaurants is thrown away. We want to reduce this, not only to make the most of the food we pay for when we’re eating out but also to help the environment. The ‘Good to Go’ pilot project will make it easier for diners to take home what they don’t finish to eat later, rather than it ending up in the bin.

“It’s heartening to see the level of commitment to this pilot from the catering industry and food businesses, which I hope will help us toward achieving our zero waste ambitions.”

Ryan James, owner of The Buttery and Chair of Glasgow Restaurant Association commented: “As a restaurateur I’m obviously passionate about amazing food, so I’m delighted to support anything that helps to ensure as little as possible ends up needlessly going to waste. Taking leftovers home is the norm in many countries, but there seems to be more of a stigma in Scotland, so by promoting the ‘Good to Go’ message and presenting diners with their food in a funky container we’re hoping it will show everyone that it’s actually a cool thing to do.”

Half of diners ‘too embarrassed’ to ask for doggy bags

The scheme follows on from research from WRAP, which delivers the Zero Waste Scotland programme for the Scottish Government, that found that ‘three quarters of diners’ would like to see doggy bags offered in restaurants, but around half admitted to being ‘too embarrassed’ to ask for them.

“Over 53,000 tonnes of food is thrown away in restaurants in Scotland each year, which is not only a huge waste of money, it’s also a huge waste of good food and the energy and water that went into producing it,” explains Director of Zero Waste Scotland, Iain Gulland.

“Research shows that most people want to take leftovers home to enjoy later, but are embarrassed to ask, so the ‘Good to Go’ pilot is all about making it a normal, mainstream thing to do.”

The pilot will run until the 25 May and research will be undertaken to ‘investigate the impact’ and determine if the scheme will be rolled out nationwide.

The Waste (Scotland) Regulations, which came into effect on 1 January 2014, now require businesses producing over 50kg of food waste per week to present it for separate collection, and also require all businesses to separate key recyclables such as paper, glass and plastic.

From 2016 all businesses producing over five kilogrammes of food waste will have to present it for separate collection and there will be a ban on the use of macerators to discharge food waste into public sewers.

ZWS is funded by the Scottish Government to support the delivery of its Zero Waste plan, which sets the target of 70 per cent of Scotland’s waste recycled by 2025 with just five per cent of waste going to landfill.

Find out more about reducing food waste.