Change practices to reduce food waste, urges Masagos

NEO CHAI CHIN Today Online 10 Jan 16;

SINGAPORE — In calling food waste one of the biggest streams of waste here, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said all stakeholders have a role to play in managing this.

Some practices such as the culture of excess at banquets must change, “without totally changing the way we live as a community in Singapore”, he told reporters after the SGfuture dialogue “Moving Towards a Zero Waste Nation: Food Waste” led by his ministry today (Jan 10).

Reducing food waste is a way for households to save money, and Singaporeans should not take the amount of food available here for granted, he added.

Food waste has gone up by about 50 per cent in the past decade, and nearly 790,000 tonnes were generated in 2014, equivalent to two bowls of food per person per day.

Zero-waste champion Eugene Tay said the Government could study measures such as stopping supermarkets, distributors and retailers from throwing away unused food, and incentivise food donations.

Businesses could allow consumers to choose their meal portions and take away leftovers, as well as accept imperfect food and donate unsold food. Individuals could learn more about composting, said Mr Tay, founder of ZeroWasteSG.

Mr Masagos expressed interest in trying some ideas from the dialogue in Tampines, where he is a Member of Parliament — such as the use of food waste by the town council for compost.

The 33 dialogue participants, who included hotel representatives, youths and environmental groups, noted challenges in redistributing food. Event organisers might know that a certain amount of food would be left over only at the last minute, for instance.

Mr Tay said he is working with some National University of Singapore students to launch an app this year that will alert students of excess food at various club or staff events. The students could then help to finish the food.

Businesses with good practices could be the subject of case studies and have their practices highlighted, participants suggested.

Siliso Beach Resort managing director Kelvin Ng estimated that his company has reduced food waste by about 40 per cent through several measures, such as by offering lunch and dinner a la carte instead of having a buffet. The resort uses earthworms for food composting, which helps fertilise the resort’s vegetable garden.

It also offers help and provides worms for schools that want to start wormeries, said Mr Ng, who learnt about earthworms and composting when he was a teenager studying in Perth.

Singapore needs to rethink food wastage: Masagos
In Singapore, about 790,000 tonnes of food waste was generated in 2014 - equivalent to each person throwing away two bowls of food every day.
Liyana Othman Channel NewsAsia 10 Jan 16;

SINGAPORE: There is a need to rethink how to reduce, reuse and recycle food waste amid an increase over the years, said Minister for Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli on Sunday (Jan 10).

In 2014, Singapore generated around 790,000 tonnes of food waste, equivalent to two bowls of food per person each day. Only 13 per cent of that amount was recycled.

Over the past 10 years, the amount of food waste Singapore generates has increased by about 48 per cent, and the number is set to increase as the country continues to grow in terms of population and affluence.

Singapore has only one landfill left - Semakau Landfill - and it is expected to run out of space if habits do not change.

"Unfortunately, we do have old cultures that we need to modify to achieve this. As an example, (at) banquets where we produce so much food, and so much variety in the menu, I think, it is quite onerous to finish everything, and indeed, the intent is to ensure that you don't finish everything, to show there's a lot of food provided on the table. So these things need to change, without totally changing the way we live as a community in Singapore."

Mr Masagos was speaking at one of the SGFuture Engagement Series sessions on "A Cleaner, Greener and Smarter Home", as part of efforts to engage with the public and seek their ideas on how to build a liveable and sustainable Singapore.


Some of the proposals put forward include teaching communities to make compost out of their food, and getting supermarkets to educate consumers about food management.

For 21-year-old Sumita Thiagarajan, she has already started to raise awareness of how much food is being wasted in Singapore. She started a project called #unhappyplatesg - a Facebook photo album featuring plates of uneaten food.

"I was just trying to raise awareness on food wastage, so together with the photos, I've put together a description about how much food Singaporeans waste. I hope that through the photos and through the descriptions, that friends and people that see it and share it can actually reduce their food intake," said Sumita.

Now, even her friends are sending her pictures of these so-called unhappy plates, to add to the collection.

For Eugene Tay, founder of Zero Waste SG, he is looking at developing an app that can match companies with leftover food to individuals or charities that need it.

"The other thing we're looking at is best practices and case studies from companies - companies who are doing their part to reduce food waste, we try to document these kind of best practices and make it available to their peers in the industry," he said.

About 30 to 40 members of the public, including youths, stakeholders and partners from various associations, industries and non-governmental organisations shared their thoughts and plans on how to cut down on food waste, and move towards a zero-waste nation.

- CNA/xq/dl

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