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Dog's dinner? Far from it, as new pilot launches aiming to cut restaurant food waste

Scottish diners are to be offered the chance to help cut the volume of food waste from restaurants by taking their leftovers home.

Zero Waste Scotland's 'Good to Go' scheme, being piloted in participating restaurants in Glasgow, Edinburgh, East Kilbride and Irvine, will offer those dining out the chance to take food they can't finish home with them in new branded take-home containers in a move designed to end the stigma associated with asking for a 'doggy bag'.

The pilot was launched yesterday at Two Fat Ladies at The Buttery by owner and Chair of Glasgow Restaurant Association Ryan James, Zero Waste Scotland's food waste expert Ylva Haglund and Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead.

Research by WRAP, which delivers the Zero Waste Scotland programme for the Scottish Government, shows 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. The pilot uses the new 'Good to Go' messaging to promote the option of take-home containers in a very visible way with branding on display in restaurants, in a bid to make taking leftovers home more socially acceptable. The pilot will investigate the effect that creating a visible message to consumers and using eye-catching branded containers has on increasing the amount of food wasted in the participating restaurants.

Iain Gulland, Director of Zero Waste Scotland, explained the need to cut restaurant food waste: "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. 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."

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead commented: "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 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."

The restaurants participating include Two Fat Ladies at The Buttery, Café Gandolfi, Mother India, Mother India's Café, Black Sheep Bistro, Nur, Ad Lib (Ingram Street), and Mister Singh's India in Glasgow, The Carrick in Irvine, The Tower in East Kilbride and Edinburgh Larder Bistro in the capital. The pilot will run until the 25th of May and research will be undertaken to investigate the impact and determine if the scheme will be rolled out nationwide.

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Food and drink

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