Two more hawker centres to get waste digesters

Pilot to convert food waste into non-potable water successful
Samantha Boh Straits Times 12 Oct 17;

The locally developed machine, managed by Eco-Wiz, mixes the waste with microbes which digest and decompose the waste into water that is then reused by the machine for self-cleaning or to clean the bin centre.

Following a successful pilot at an Ang Mo Kio hawker centre, the National Environment Agency (NEA) will be installing food waste digesters at two more hawker centres next year.

The hawker centres are at Block 58 in New Upper Changi Road and Block 16 in Bedok South Road.

The digesters are expected to convert food waste into non-potable water.

The NEA told The Straits Times that the centres were chosen based on the number of stalls they have, the amount of food waste generated, and the space available to install the digesters.

The digester in Ang Mo Kio, which has a one-tonne food waste capacity, occupies a 3m by 5m space.

The hawker centre in New Upper Changi Road has 163 cooked food and market stalls, while the one in Bedok South Road has 164 cooked food and market stalls.

They each generate about one tonne of food waste each day, which the digesters are expected to convert into non-potable water within 24 hours, the NEA said.

NEA said the pilot at the market and food centre at Block 628 in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 has "performed according to expectations".

Since it was launched in January last year, about 530 tonnes of food waste has been treated, or about one tonne each day.

The locally developed machine, managed by Eco-Wiz, mixes the waste with microbes which digest and decompose the waste into water that is then reused by the machine for self-cleaning or to clean the bin centre.

It costs about $100,000.

The machine was launched along with another pilot at Tiong Bahru Market.

While the digester there treated about 210 tonnes of food waste over a year, the treatment system was discontinued as the open grinding of food waste there resulted in smell nuisance, the NEA said.

That machine was managed by VRM Operations (Singapore).

The NEA is testing an alternative approach for Tiong Bahru Market, by sending food waste collected there to national water agency PUB's demonstration facility in Ulu Pandan for co-digestion with used water sludge.

NEA said its assessment of the pilots at Ang Mo Kio and Tiong Bahru shows that it is operationally feasible to segregate food waste on-site at hawker centres.

Mr Eugene Tay, executive director of non-profit environmental group Zero Waste SG, said: "While it is good to recycle food waste with the digesters, efforts should still be focused on reducing food waste at the stalls through proper food storage, cooking methods, portion sizes, and also redistributing unsold food, 'ugly' or blemished food to charities.

"NEA can also explore if residents living nearby could take their food waste to the digesters for recycling," he added.

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