KELLY NG Today Online 14 Nov 16;
SINGAPORE — At St Anthony’s Primary School, unwanted fruit peels are regularly collected from the canteen and transformed into fertilisers and pesticide for the school’s garden.
Helmed by a group of students from the Science and Environment Club, this composting initiative is part of a school-wide effort to tackle food waste, which also sees upper primary students guiding their younger peers on the importance of not wasting food.
The school is one of two pioneer participants in a new labelling programme to recognise schools, hotels and food and beverage outlets in the South West District that have taken steps to cut down on food waste generated and discarded.
A joint effort between South West Community Development Council and the National Environment Agency, “Foodprints @ South West” awards points for waste reduction measures such as segregating food waste and non-food waste, distributing unsold bread or pastries to the needy, putting up food waste reduction posters and using food waste for composting or generating energy, among others.
Establishments with at least three “Foodprint” points qualify for the programme, and will receive a set of “Foodprints @ South West” wobblers, hanging mobiles and decals to be placed within their premises.
Successful establishments will be audited yearly to ensure that the waste reduction measures are still in place.
Launching the programme on Sunday, South West District mayor Low Yen Ling said organisers hope to see at least 20 establishments come on board the programme in the next year.
“As Asians, we want to be hospitable. There is a perception that to be a good host, we must provide more than enough food. But really, I think it is time for us to rethink this ... Last year, Singapore generated over 785,500 tonnes of food waste. This is equivalent to about two bowls of food per person each day ... It is really time that we harness our efforts, (put) all hands on deck and address this issue,” said Ms Low.
It is important to target food suppliers “upstream” to “inculcate the right habits at source”, she said.
Authorities and grassroot volunteers also plan to survey food outlets over the year to see how they can be better supported to implement waste reduction measures, said Ms Low, citing the possibility of co-funding efforts taken by micro-enterprises and hawker stalls.
Working with schools allow the youths to serve as “ambassadors” in reminding their own family members to be mindful in consuming what they need, she added.
St Anthony’s Primary School, for instance, plans to have students encourage their families to pledge to cut down on food waste.
“We don’t want them to just send a message, but to actually commit to the cause ...We see how much pride the students have in this effort, and this is something we can tap,” said Mrs Rosarita Teo, the school’s head of department for Character & Citizenship Education.
Currently, Primary 4 students in the school conduct classes and quizzes for their Primary 1 peers to convey the importance of minimising food waste.
The school, which recently harvested their second batch of compost made from fruit waste, black sugar, rain water and other components, also plans to boost the involvement of its canteen’s stallholders in its waste reduction efforts.
Apart from St Anthony’s, Qifa Primary School is the other school currently on board the programme. Students have designed posters and bookmarks, and held talks in the school and public libraries, to encourage the community to reduce food waste.
KELLY NG Today Online 14 Nov 16;