Grounds for Recycling as part of city-wide work towards a more sustainable food system

By Riikka Gonzalez, Sustainable Food Places Co-Ordinator, Glasgow Food Policy Partnership and Rebecca Livesey-Wright, Communications Officer, Glasgow Community Food Network June 2023


It’s fantastic to see Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, through its Circular Glasgow initiative, run another environmental campaign, Grounds for Recycling, aimed at hospitality and tourism businesses, this time aiming to encourage venues around the city to tackle and repurpose used coffee grounds. The campaign links nicely to many of the Glasgow City Food Plan actions aiming to reduce the environmental impacts of food at a local level. The 10-year plan, developed by a multisector team and over 80 stakeholder organisations, was launched in June 2021, and includes food related actions divided between 6 overarching themes. The themes include Food and the Environment, aiming to reduce the amount of food waste produced in the city and, Food Economy, which encourages food businesses to become more sustainable along with supporting and publicising local food businesses and promoting increased local food production.

Part of this work has been with Slow Food Glasgow to develop  Glasgow’s first Sustainable Food Directory ahead of COP26 with the aim of listing some of the city’s most sustainable restaurants, cafes and food shops. The inclusion criteria is based on the origin, environmental sustainability and healthiness of food along with wider societal criteria such as staff training, whether staff are paid Real Living Wage and whether communities are supported in some way. To be included the venues have to reach a minimum of 75% of the maximum points available. The team hopes the Directory will not only guide locals and visitors to Glasgow towards more sustainable eateries and shops, but encourage venues to purchase more sustainably produced food and to adopt other circular economy principles, which in turn will cut down food waste. The team has also created a list of Sustainable Resources which can help existing and aspiring venues towards more sustainable practices. In the future, the aim is to develop the toolkit and the directory further and the team also hopes to organise training events for those venues hoping to improve their sustainability practices. The second version of the directory has just been launched (early June 2023), and you access the directory here.

The Food and the Environment Working Group has concentrated its efforts on various collaborative food waste projects, many of them led by Zero Waste Scotland and Glasgow City Council, with support from students from the University of Strathclyde. This has included research on the food waste generated in the dining halls of some Glasgow schools, for example, which will help develop ways to address the issue of food waste. Work is also underway to strengthen the links between the Food Plan and other city-wide work on improving sustainability and reducing carbon emissions.

The food plan team is also collecting details of any research underway that relates to the aims of the Food Plan and discussions are being held with our university partners about possible academic collaborations.

The Food and Climate Action project, run by Glasgow Community Food Network, is very involved in the delivery of many of the actions of Glasgow’s Food Plan. The team of 10 work across the city with community groups and individuals, engaging people in conversations and activities to promote healthier and more sustainable food production and consumption for people and planet. The project is now in its third year and will be investing energy into a new focus on food waste reduction with their Composting for the Future campaign. Although in its infancy, the campaign will build upon work already established by the project’s Community Activators such as the Community Composting Network, and workshops on worm composting. The team will work with communities to identify what needs to change with our city’s current food-waste recycling system, explore alternative models to make composting easier and more effective, and support community groups to set these up. Although the Food and Climate Action project doesn’t have any answers just yet on how communities might be able to work with local businesses to promote composting and food waste recycling, they hope that they will be able to support the emergence of exciting changes in Glasgow’s approach to food waste and composting, bringing climate considerations to the fore. With Grounds for Recycling working in partnership with the Glasgow Botanic Gardens, where used coffee grounds will be turned into compost to build ecosystems that capture carbon, rehabilitate soil and support wildlife and biodiversity, it’s certainly a great first step to showcasing the possibilities and many benefits.

To keep up to date with all that’s happening with Composting for the Future, including events, workshops and free resources, take a look at Glasgow Community Food Network’s Composting for the Future page.

If you would like more information about the Glasgow City Food Plan or the work of the Glasgow Food Policy Partnership, please contact:

For more information about the Glasgow Sustainable Food Directory and how to be included you can contact:

Best contact to find out more about the Food and Climate Action project and how to get involved is: