Half of food thrown away by Singapore households can be avoided: NEA study

Channel NewsAsia 3 Dec 17;

SINGAPORE: More than half of the food waste generated by Singapore households could have been avoided by not ordering, buying or cooking too much, a recent study found.

The amount of food waste measured in the study conducted by the National Environment Agency (NEA) between November 2016 to March 2017 was equal to throwing away a 2.5kg bag of rice every week, the agency said in a news release on Sunday (Dec 3).

The study involved collecting waste from 279 households over three days and sorting it to determine the amount of "avoidable" and "unavoidable" food waste including parts of food not intended for consumption such as bones and egg shells.

A total of 443 families were also interviewed to understand their food waste management habits.

About one in four households said they had leftovers after a meal at least half the time. A quarter said they often threw away spoilt or expired food, mostly because they had bought too much food and had food hidden at the back of the fridge.

Half of them acknowledged that they could have taken steps to avoid food waste generated from leftovers after a meal, food expiring or becoming spoilt, and throwing away blemished fruits and vegetables.

More than 50 per cent of the families interviewed also suggested that supermarkets pack food items into smaller portions and for eateries to offer different dish portion sizes.

FOOD WASTE HEAVIER THAN 3,500 MRT TRAINS

Food waste accounts for about half of the waste disposed by each Singapore household every day. Rice, noodles and bread are the most commonly wasted food items, according to the study.

Food waste in Singapore has increased by about 40 per cent over the last 10 years, with the amount last year being equivalent to the weight of more than 3,500 MRT trains, NEA said.

"At the current rate of waste disposal, we will require a new waste-to-energy plant to be built every seven to 10 years and a new landfill to be built every 35 years. This is not sustainable given Singapore’s land scarcity constraints," it added.

The agency advised members of the public to buy, cook or order only what they need. Tips include making a shopping list to avoid impulse buys, asking for less rice or noodles based on one’s appetite, as well as using leftovers to cook the next meal.

They are also advised to store raw foods that are not consumed within three to four days in the refrigerator to minimise nutrition loss as well as bacteria spoilage due to Singapore's warm temperature.

"Food waste is an important issue to tackle as part of our efforts to move Singapore towards our vision of a Zero Waste Nation," said Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Ministry of Health and Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources at a grassroots event on Sunday.

"If everyone does their part to reduce food waste, we also save on the resources needed to produce the food, as well as to dispose of it. This in turn reduces our carbon footprint," she added.
Source: CNA/kc

More than half of food thrown away by households can be avoided: NEA study
KELLY NG Today Online 4 Dec 17;

Amount of food waste generated in Singapore has increased by about 40 per cent over last 10 years

SINGAPORE — More than half of food waste generated by Singapore households would not have been trashed if they were better managed, such as by buying and cooking the right proportions, a waste audit has found.

This amount of "avoidable" food waste generated by each household amounts to chucking a 2.5kg bag of rice each week, according to the National Environment Agency (NEA).

Sharing these findings at a community health event for ladies at Hong Kah North Community Club on Sunday (Dec 3), Senior Minister of State for Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor urged Singaporeans to avoid wasting food during the upcoming festive season by not succumbing to "impulse buys". She suggested saving leftovers for other dishes and ordering only what one can consume while eating out.

"It is a period when we tend to over indulge... This festive season, I hope everyone will adopt healthier eating habits and eat in moderation by ordering or cooking only what you need," she said.

"This will not only allow us to keep healthy but also avoid food waste and reduce expenses. At the same time, we will be doing our bit for the environment."

The NEA study on household waste showed that 54 per cent of food waste generated by households would not have been binned if people adopted a more prudent approach towards managing their food.

Twenty seven per cent of households interviewed in the study - which polled 443 families from November 2016 to March this year - said they had leftovers at least half the time.

In addition, about one in four (24 per cent) said they often threw away spoilt and expired food as a result of buying too much, or due to having food items hidden at the back of the fridge.

"Personally, I must confess that it happens to me, when I go to a supermarket... So I think it is important to raise awareness among consumers, give them tips, on how to manage food waste," said Dr Khor.

The amount of food waste generated in Singapore has increased by about 40 per cent over the last 10 years. Last year, the city state generated 791,000 tonnes of food waste - equivalent to the weight of over 3,500 MRT trains, noted the NEA.

As part of the audit, waste was collected from 279 household over three days and sorted to determine the amount of "avoidable" and "unavoidable" food waste, including parts of food not intended for consumption, like bones and egg shells, that each households throws away.

Food waste accounts for about half the waste disposed by each Singapore household daily. Staples like rice, noodles and bread are the most commonly discarded food items.

Dr Khor said that as society becomes more affluent, food choices have also increased. "People start consuming more, and that can become a habit," she said.

"Sometimes, culture (plays a part too). For instance, during festive seasons like Chinese New Year, they always say... We must always have some (food) left over."

Half of the households interviewed acknowledged, on hindsight, that they could have done more to avoid food waste in the form of leftovers, expired or spoilt food, and blemished fruits and vegetables.

Fifty four per cent of the households surveyed also said that retailers and manufacturers can help to reduce food wastage, such as by packing food in smaller portions.

The authorities will look at working with business like supermarkets and food retail outlets to reduce food waste, said Dr Khor.

On Sunday, she also announced the second National Falls Prevention Awareness Campaign, which will focus on preventing falls at home for the elderly.

Six in 10 falls among seniors occur at home, according to figures from the National Trauma Registry.

As such, this year's campaign centres on encouraging households to keep their floors clutter-free, use non-slip mats and install grab-bars to provide extra support.

"Falls are a common cause of injury and can have serious implications on health and quality of life... Together, we can make our homes safe for ourselves and our loved ones," said Dr Khor.


2.5kg of food a week wasted by each household, equal to half of all household waste: NEA study
Lim Min Zhang Straits Times 3 Dec 17;

SINGAPORE - About 2.5kg of food waste is thrown away by an average Singapore home each week, and this makes uphalf of all waste the home disposes, a National Environment Agency (NEA) study released on Sunday (Dec 3) showed.

More than half the food wasted could be avoided through people not buying, ordering or cooking excessively, with rice, noodles and bread forming the most commonly wasted food items, said the five-month study involving 443 homes.

The findings underscore the fact that the amount of food waste generated in Singapore has increased by about 40 per cent over the last 10 years, with the amount last year (2016) - 791,000 tonnes - equivalent to the weight of more than 3,500 MRT trains.

At a grassroots event at Hong Kah Community Club on Sunday, Senior Minister of State for Health, and the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor said a more affluent society and a wider range of food choices were possible reasons for this increase.

People in 443 homes took part in the household waste study from November 2016 to March 2017.

Waste samples were collected from 279 of these homes over three days a week to determine the proportion that was avoidable, versus waste not intended for human consumption, such as egg shells and bones. The other homes had interviews done.

The survey showed that 27 per cent of the homes had leftovers after a meal at least half the time, while 24 per cent often threw away spoilt or expired food, mainly because the respondentsbought too much, and they were not aware of food items hidden at the back of the fridge.

Dr Khor agreed with the agency's appeal for businesses to take on a greater role to reduce food waste.

Even if it's a little effort, do something to lead a healthier lifestyle: Amy Khor

About 54 per cent of the study's respondents also agreed, suggesting that food be packed in smaller portions at supermarkets, and having food outlets offer different food portions.

To avoid having to throw away food turned bad, Ms Gladys Wong, chief dietitian and senior manager of nutrition and dietetics at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, advised people to refrigerate most raw foods not consumed within three or four days, given Singapore's warm temperature.

"If possible, store foods whole. Cut or peel only before eating or cooking as the cut surfaces of the foods when exposed to air can result in some nutrient loss," she said.

At Singapore's current rate of waste disposal, a new waste-to-energy plant needs to be built every seven to 10 years, while a new landfill would be needed every 35 years.

This is not sustainable given Singapore's land scarcity, said the NEA statement on the study results.

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