It's a problem that has plagued restaurants for decades but now a new campaign has been launched to tackle ‘plate waste’ – customer leftovers at the end of a meal – with Scotland’s ‘Good to Go’ doggy bag scheme proving to be a restaurant’s best friend.

The number of Scottish hospitality businesses taking part in the new scheme has rocketed by over 100 per cent since last April, with 42,000 Good to Go boxes going into circulation in the last 12 months.

'Good to Go' doggy bags

Part of the appeal is the savings to the businesses taking part with one in every six meals currently served by restaurants being thrown away – costing the Scottish hospitality industry £64 million annually.

For consumers, it’s about changing attitudes towards leftovers. Zero Waste Scotland research has shown that two fifths of Scots are currently too embarrassed to ask for a doggy bag – but three quarters said they would welcome the option of taking one home.

To ensure food is safe, Food Standards Scotland-approved guidance is featured on Good to Go boxes providing advice and assurance on reheating and eating restaurant leftovers at home.

Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, said: “The Scottish Government has set an ambitious target to cut food waste by 33 per cent by 2025 and it’s very encouraging to see schemes like Good to Go making such an impact.

“The dramatic rise participating Scottish businesses is testament to a changing narrative around food waste. With so many restaurants now taking part, we encourage Scots to do their bit and ask for a doggy bag when dining out.”

Suzanne O’Connor, executive chef of Edinburgh’s Contini Group, recently launched the scheme at the Scottish Cafe & Restaurant at the Scottish National Gallery: “As a family-run, independent restaurant group we take a huge amount of care and pride in our approach to local sourcing and sustainability.

“Good to Go really aligns with this ethos and has been a great success, our customers are delighted to take home their leftovers – everything from a scone to smoked salmon – and really understand the value of preventing such wonderful ingredients from going to waste.

“We initially piloted the scheme in the Scottish Cafe and, due to customer demand, are now rolling Good to Go out to our other restaurants including our family Italian, Contini George Street.”

Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said: “Good to Go has demonstrated the tremendous appetite for doggy bags – not just from consumers but from restaurants who have found, through our hugely successful trials, that it enhances their customer service and helps them monitor and deal with food waste.

“It’s good for the bottom line, and great for the environment, as tackling unnecessary food waste is one of the most important things we can do to tackle climate change.

“I’m delighted that well-known Scottish restaurants, such as The Scottish Cafe, are seeing the benefits of the scheme and hope to see many more taking part in future.”

About The Author

Sean Murphy

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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