Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Reducing your waste

When it comes to minimising the impact of consumption on Scotland's environment, the best place to start is by trying to reduce what we use.

When it comes to minimising the impact of consumption on Scotland's environment, the best place to start is by trying to reduce what we use.

Making careful decisions about what we buy can have a big impact on the environment.

Why reduce waste?

Food production, goods manufacturing, transportation and storage contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and costs that are passed on to us all. Making careful decisions about what we buy and trying to reduce waste can have a big impact.

The cost of what we put in the bin every week is a good reason to reduce waste. Throwing out less reduces the amount of energy needed to transport and process waste and means less landfill too, which makes for a cleaner and greener Scotland.

Benefits of reducing waste

  • Lessen the pollution and greenhouse gas emissions associated with landfill to help make Scotland a cleaner, greener place to live
  • Cut the financial cost to your community of getting rid of waste
  • Make household savings, especially on food bills – you could save up to £470 a year 

Taking action

There are three big things you can do to reduce your overall waste.

Reduce Packaging

  • Try to buy items with less packaging
  • Give downloading music and films a go instead of buying hard copies
  • Reuse food containers to store food instead of using cling film or foil

Shop Greener

  • Choose longer-life products, for example, by checking guarantee periods or use-by dates
  • See what you can buy second-hand, at charity shops and online
  • If you can, buy liquids and dry goods in refillable cartons that you can use again and again

Reduce Food Waste

  • Plan your meals by looking at what you already have in your fridge and cupboards, then make a shopping list and stick to it
  • Keep fruit and vegetables in the fridge and ‘stay fresh’ bags to help them last longer
  • Find more helpful tips on reducing food waste in our Food Waste section

Got a garden? Use garden and kitchen waste to make your own compost. If not, look out for the food waste collections that are offered in some towns and cities and will be available in others in the coming years. You can make use of your local collection service as soon as it becomes available. Use our local recycling services search to check.

Find out how to

compost food waste

See what else can go in a basic compost bin and find out about composting with worms and other methods.

Find out more

Ten top tips to reduce waste

Use our top tips to reduce waste in all kinds of areas of your life, from buying food to recycling your batteries.

1. Buy fruit and veg loose

Buy firmer fruits and vegetables loose rather than pre-packed (it's often cheaper and reduces packaging waste).

2. Go for local produce

Better still, have a local farm regularly deliver a produce box.

3. Avoid multipacks

Try to avoid buying multi-packs that have layers of packaging.

4. Use refillable containers

Buy liquids and dry goods, like cereals and soap powder, in bulk using refillable containers.

5. Carry a water bottle

Use a refillable water bottle instead of the water cooler or bottled water.

6. Music and films

Download music and films instead of buying CDs and DVDs.

7. Smart printing

Use both sides if you have to print documents and refill toner cartridges.

8. Stop junk mail

Stop junk mail - register with the Mailing Preference Service.

9. Buy used and recycled products

Buy reused or recycled products whenever possible.

10. Batteries

Use rechargeable batteries instead of single-use ones and recycle your batteries when you're finished with them.

Cutting down plastic waste

Scotland is making a commitment to reducing waste by 15% and recycling 70% of all waste by 2025. A massive part of that will mean reducing the amount of plastic we use and throw away. 

Benefits of doing so include reducing the current £1m a week it costs the country to tackle litter and flytipping, which would be better spent on other services. It will also benefit the environment and the ocean, giving us a cleaner, clearer land, coastline and aquatic culture. 

Tips on how you can play your part in reducing plastic waste can be seen below: