CAMPAIGNERS have claimed Scottish households are discarding enough food annually to feed everyone in the country three times a day for 50 days.

The anti-waste group says 800 million meals a year could be made from 360,000 tonnes of food that is needlessly thrown into the nation’s dustbins per annum.

Zero Waste Scotland produced the figures at the launch in Edinburgh of a new drive which aims to put an end to food waste which it says costs households £1 billion a year.

Herald View: The waste of money that should pus all to shame

As the European Week for Waste Reduction got under way with a launch on Calton Hill, organisations and community groups across Scotland are sharing their ideas for tackling food waste with their European neighbours.

Ylva Haglund, a campaign manager at the charity, said: “In Scotland we are working jointly towards one of the most ambitious targets on food waste in Europe.

“Having local communities on board taking action to reduce waste at grassroots level is vital to achieving that, so it is fantastic to see so many organisations sharing Scotland’s expertise at European level this week.

“We need to harness their learnings and enthusiasm to tackle food waste at all levels of society.” The week, which is co-ordinated by Zero Waste Scotland, includes 100 actions across the country aimed at harnessing grassroots action on waste by schools, universities, businesses, charities and community groups. Scotland has set ambitious targets to reduce the problem by a third (33 per cent) by 2025.

Herald View: The waste of money that should pus all to shame

Several projects are “twinning” with similar groups overseas to share learning, including link-ups between Food Sharing Edinburgh and Food Sharing Germany and between the universities of Strathclyde and Malta.

Award-winning chef Neil Forbes, chef director at the capital’s Café St Honore has devised a series of simple, quick recipes using some of Scotland’s most commonly wasted food.

The recipes for these can be found on Zero Waste Scotland’s Love Food Hate Waste, and include short, easy to follow videos.

He said: “As a chef and restaurant owner I am very conscious of avoiding food waste, so I was amazed to discover how much food we as a country throw out.

“European Week for Waste Reduction is a great opportunity for people to play their own part in reducing waste.

“I hope by showing people how they can use up food in tasty and easy recipes people will be encouraged to really make the most of the food they buy.”

Herald View: The waste of money that should pus all to shame

The charity estimates that meat worth £190 million is being discarded each year.

Beef, lamb, pork and poultry alone account for 22,000 tonnes of waste worth £140m.

Supermarkets have already acted to migitate the impact of unsold food, with many now giving stocks left over at the end of the night to community groups or homeless charities.

The main chains, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Tesco, have committed themselves to a voluntary agreement, which also targets a 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions created by the food and drink industry.

The Waste and Resources Action Programme is working on behalf of the Scottish and UK governments, as well as devolved powers in Wales, on the programme.