PRIMARY pupils in rural Peeblesshire have become the first in Scotland to hit government waste targets - almost a decade early.

And politicians hope they will be an inspiration as Holyrood attempts to slash the 600,000 tonnes of food and drink which goes to waste every year.

Both West Linton and Newlands primaries have seen school canteen waste reduced by 33 per cent over the past year - the target politicians have set for 2025.

And a wider project is closing in on a 25 per cent reduction across the entire community.

Local MSP Christine Grahame was amongst the first to congratulate the schools. She said: "We have become a throw-away society - in my youth there was nothing like the food waste that there is now.

"It is an issue that urgently needs addressed and I am delighted that it is primary school children who are leading the way.

"I visited West Linton Primary recently and saw the effort that is being made to reduce waste."

Former Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead pledged to cut food waste in Scotland by a third by 2025 earlier this year during a meeting with EU Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella.

It is estimated Scotland would save around £500 million by reaching the target.

Both West Linton and Newlands primary schools became part of the '2000m2 Think Global, Eat Local' project last year, which is being led by nearby Whitmuir Farm.

The farm launched its first rural food waste collection, funded by Climate Challenge Fund, in October, 2015.

Now more than 100 local families are taking part and they have so far this year diverted six tonnes of food waste from landfill and made 5.6 tonnes of compost.

Campaign workers from Zero Waste Scotland visited West Linton Primary this week to discuss the changes with the school's eco group.

And they admit they were 'bowled over' by the progress being made.

Eleanor Dillon, Zero Waste Scotland Consumer Campaigns Project Manager said: “It’s was a great opportunity to see so many young people and families engaged in addressing this global issue and showing Scotland’s commitment to tackling food waste”

West Linton's primary 7 pupils are sharing their waste reduction methods with a similar school project in Bavaria.

Deputy headteacher Martin Elliot told us: "We are working with our partners at Whitmuir Organics and Zero Waste Scotland to influence the amount of food waste the school and parents of the pupils are generating.

"We have set ourselves very ambitious targets to reduce our food waste."