Report food waste data, malls and hotels

Walter Sim The Straits Times AsiaOne 1 May 14;

SINGAPORE - About 250 shopping malls and hotels will need to report waste and recycling data to the National Environment Agency (NEA) from next year.

They must state the weight of waste discarded and that channelled for reuse and recycling, broken down by type, such as paper, metals and food. Their reports must reach the agency by the first quarter of next year.

Companies must also submit waste reduction plans.

The amount of waste generated in Singapore has been rising over the years. Last year, some 7.85 million tonnes were generated, up from 7.27 million tonnes in 2012. The 2011 figure was 6.9 million tonnes.

This compulsory exercise is aimed at hotels with more than 200 rooms, and malls with net lettable areas of over 50,000 sq ft.

An NEA spokesman, responding to queries from The Straits Times, said: "Large commercial premises are generally less responsive to potential savings from reducing waste as waste disposal costs account for only about 3 per cent of their total utilities bill.

"We hope to draw and sustain greater management attention on the waste produced by the premises."

The agency said it will use the data to work with companies to improve waste management plans, through the "sharing of best practices".

There are no incentives for the companies that fare better.

Affected businesses say they are supportive of the programme, and are working with external vendors to monitor their respective waste situation.

A spokesman for Suntec City Mall said it adopts a "collaborative approach" with its tenants, and closely monitors waste and recycling.

Marina Bay Sands (MBS) president and chief executive officer George Tanasijevich said waste management forms an "integral" part of its sustainability efforts.

"We are targeting to achieve a 30 per cent waste diversion rate by end of this year and have plans to continuously improve our recycling rate," he said.

MBS generates reports on waste and recycling on a twice- monthly basis with the help of its external waste vendor, and conducts quarterly audits, he said.

It also has an on-site food waste liquefier that can divert up to 2 tonnes of food waste per day.

Likewise, Royal Plaza on Scotts' general manager Patrick Fiat said it already receives a monthly report from its waste vendor.

The hotel is also looking to increase its recycling efforts beyond the 2,000 kg of materials it recycles yearly.

As food waste continues to hit new highs, the Government is also pledging to do more to combat the issue.

The Straits Times reported last month that a record high of 796,000 tonnes of food was dumped in 2013.

Only about 13 per cent was recycled.

The amount of food waste - including cooked food and expired packaged products - last year was a 42.4 per cent leap from the 2007 figure, far outpacing the 17.7 per cent growth in population.

Minister of State for National Development Maliki Osman told The Straits Times that the Government is looking at "continual education to drive home the importance of moderation... and not to take our food for granted".

"We have done a good job conserving our water and energy over the past few years," he said, adding Singaporeans should be as conscientious in conserving food.

Singapore Environment Council chief executive Jose Raymond said he hopes the mandatory reporting exercise could be expanded to include caterers, all hotels, food industries and food and beverage retail outlets, including food courts, so as to curtail food waste.

He urged the Government to consider further legislation to impose fines on industries and companies who contribute to "excessive and unregulated amounts of food waste".

Eligible companies that fail to submit the report, as required under the Environmental Public Health Act, will be liable to a fine of up to $5,000.

Subsequent offences will carry a fine of up to $10,000, a jail term of up to three months, or both.


Amount of waste generated in...

2011: 6.9 million tonnes

2012: 7.27 million tonnes

2013: About 7.85 million tonnes