Best of our wild blogs: 28 Apr 14

Double dose of Ubin!
from wild shores of singapore

Morning Walk At Dairy Farm Nature Park (26 Apr 2014)
from Beetles@SG BLOG

Lumpy Rock Crab @ Terumbu Raya
from Monday Morgue

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Recycling of foodwaste yet to catch on in Singapore

Practice still not common due to lack of infrastructure, costs in sorting such refuse
Siau Ming En Today Online 28 Apr 14;

SINGAPORE — The practice of recycling food waste has not caught on, despite efforts to curb the growing amount of such waste generated.

Food recycling rates in Singapore rose for the second consecutive year in 2013, as 13 per cent of the 796,000 tonnes of food waste generated were recycled last year, figures from the National Environment Agency (NEA) show.

However, last year’s food recycling rate was still below the 16 per cent of food waste recycled in 2010.

Industry players said a myriad of reasons account for the low recycling rates, including the lack of infrastructure as well as manpower and logistical costs of sorting food waste.

More importantly, they felt the main contributors of food waste — food caterers, hawker centres, restaurants, supermarkets and hotels — have yet to change their mindset.

Food recycling company Eco-Wiz CEO Renee Mison said food waste recycling is not a priority for some food and beverage (F&B) outlets here. “Some operators feel the effort to reduce food waste is not directly related to their performance or productivity. To them, it’s something good, but it’s not something they have to do now.”

“It’s basically our culture,” said Mr Daniel Ang, president of the Association of Catering Professionals Singapore. “We just dump everything; throw (food away). Nobody collects it for recycling,” he added.

The NEA said the bulk of food waste, mostly uncooked kitchen food and post-meal leftovers, is currently disposed of at waste-to-energy incineration plants. The part that can be recycled, which comprises clean waste such as spent grains from beer brewing, bread waste and soya bean waste, is converted into animal feed.

Some of the food waste recycling technology offered in Singapore is also able to convert food waste to compost, liquid or reusable water for washing.

The lack of infrastructure is a hurdle, said Mr Ang, who is also CEO of catering companies Elsie’s Kitchen and Continental Delight. He added that getting caterers to participate in food recycling is “not really an issue”, but the basic infrastructure — such as the provision of bins to sort food waste from other refuse — should first be provided.

Independent enterprises or the Government could step in to provide these bins and the collection of food waste, he suggested.

A cost-benefit analysis study commissioned by the NEA in 2010 shows there is “a net cost” to recycle food waste at a centralised recycling facility for such refuse, largely due to the costs from collecting and processing the waste. These costs could be lowered with better technology, more efficient operations and improved waste segregation, said the agency.

To address cost concerns and encourage smaller F&B firms to invest in food recycling technology, Eco-Wiz recently launched a smaller version of its food waste digesters, which cost less than S$10,000, but have the capacity to process 50kg of food waste a day.

Currently, its machines offer various capacities to process food waste, from 100kg to 1,000kg a day, with costs between S$30,000 and about S$80,000.

Four hotels and an institute of higher learning have been awarded grants under an NEA fund to recycle food waste generated on-site using food waste digesters.

The aggregate grant awarded to these projects amounted to about S$342,900, with each project lasting three to three-and-a-half years. “The total estimated food waste recycling tonnage over the duration of these projects is 3,805 tonnes,” said the NEA.

Co-founder Nichol Ng of Food Bank, a non-profit organisation that collects excess food and redistributes it to the needy, said some firms are concerned about the costs of separating food as well as the collection of excess food.

While Ms Ng has noticed a growing public awareness about the need to save food, she said guidelines to encourage more to be done are lacking. For instance, some people do not know how to reuse food items that are odd or packaged wrongly and that would lead to food wastage, she said.

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One million flowers made from plastic bags for Chingay display

Amir Hussain Today Online 28 Apr 14;

SINGAPORE — Next year’s Chingay parade will showcase a special contribution by Singaporeans: Flowers handmade from recycled plastic bags. The People’s Association (PA) aims to gather at least one million such flowers, which will be used to form a large display at the event slated for Feb 27 and 28 at the F1 Pit Building, as part of its Chingay 2015 Community Engagement Programme.

The initiative, titled We Love Sg Flowers, is also aimed at encouraging Singaporeans to be environmentally conscious. The programme was launched yesterday by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, as he joined some 500 residents from his Teck Ghee ward to fold flowers at the Teck Ghee Community Club (CC).

PA Chief Executive Director Ang Hak Seng said the flowers are “very simple to make, so all Singaporeans can participate”.

“Chingay next year is going to be a special one because we are celebrating Singapore’s 50th birthday,” he added. Grassroots organisations such as Residents Committees and Neighbourhood Committees will kick-start the drive by collecting used plastic bags from residents.

The PA will also invite external partners such as schools, religious bodies, clan associations and private companies to join in the programme.

After Chingay, the flowers will be distributed for display at the PAssionArts Festival 2015 from April to May, and in celebration of Singapore’s 50th birthday. Thereafter, they will be kept by the CCs or sold for recycling, with proceeds to go to charity.

PA kicks off bid to craft a million flowers from plastic bags
David Ee The Straits Times AsiaOne 30 Apr 14;

SINGAPORE - Teck Ghee in Ang Mo Kio GRC yesterday hosted a "bring your own bag" event with a difference.

The special guest was the ward's Member of Parliament, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who brought 20 plastic bags and joined 500 residents and volunteers in turning the bags into flowers.

The event kicked off the People's Association's (PA's) effort to get people islandwide to craft one million flowers from used bags, as a way to show their love for the nation as it approaches its 50th birthday next year.

The flowers, which represent people's wishes for Singapore, will eventually be part of a gigantic "flower bed", which will be displayed at the opening of Chingay 2015, to be held on Feb 27 and 28 at the F1 Pit Building.

The PA is inviting groups across the island to take part, including schools, businesses, faith groups, clan and immigrant associations, and ordinary households.

After Chingay next year, the "flowers" will be shown at the PAssionArts Festival next April.

They will then be sold to recycling firms to be turned into flower pots or new bags.

For some of the participants yesterday, their wishes for the nation ahead of a half-century of independence were tinged with gratitude for Singapore's journey.

"I feel happy that Singapore has reached 50 years without too many conflicts," said transport officer Habel Low, 64.

"I wish for harmony and stability, especially with our multiracial society. We have to give and take and tolerate one another."

Teck Ghee Primary pupil Lim Yin Kang, 12, had just two wishes: for the country to remain a safe place to live, and for it to become "less stressful" for students.

Others wished for a more environmentally conscious Singapore and close-knit communities.

Mr Low said that ultimately, he worries about the cost of living and hopes that his two sons, aged 26 and 17, will "get jobs and a place to stay".

As for PM Lee, who made five flowers, he seemed to have babies on his mind. Just before giving out prizes at the Teck Ghee Baby Show, which was held alongside the event, he told the new parents present that raising children is "one of the greatest joys" in life.

He quipped: "I hope that next year when we have a baby show, you will come back. This group of babies may be too old, but I hope you have a new group of babies to participate next year."

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