The Scottish economy could be boosted by up to £800 million a year if waste and by-products from fish, beer, and whisky businesses were ‘better utilised’, a new report from Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) has found.

According to the ‘Sector Study on Beer, Whisky and Fish’, released today (30 June), waste produced by these three sectors could have intrinsic economic value if used for aquaculture, or for animal feed, fertiliser and protein food supplements.

The report was undertaken by ZWS as part of the Scottish Government’s evidence programme with ZWS, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and SEPA, which seeks to ‘inform next steps (including development projects) and longer-term work to understand and maximise the employment, growth and opportunities to be achieved by moving towards a circular approach’.

Although there is no formal data collection system for waste and by-products for these three sectors, ZWS undertook ‘various estimates and assumptions’ gathered from published reports and stakeholder interviews to determine that every year more than four million tonnes of bio-based waste and by-products are produced by the whisky sector, 53,682 tonnes are produced by the beer sector, and 189,538 tonnes (including aquaculture fish mortalities) are produced by the fish and shellfish sector.

Although the materials are already largely sent for use in combined heat and power plants, or for use in fish and cattle feed, ZWS has identified that there are ‘new uses’ for these by-products that could further boost the economic value of the waste streams.