Singaporeans regularly waste food, survey finds

DON MENDOZA Today Online 15 Oct 15;

SINGAPORE — Ahead of World Food Day tomorrow (Oct 16), a recent report has found that 77 per cent of Singaporeans regularly waste food at home.

The survey, commissioned by household appliance company Electrolux, also found that only 32 per cent of those surveyed prepare meals according to the number of diners, resulting in excessive food being prepared.

Compounding the problem is the fact that only 35 per cent of the respondents reuse leftovers, while a staggering 92 per cent leave leftovers in the fridge in the hope that family members will consume them, only to later discard them. It doesn’t help that 29 per cent do not like eating leftovers, while almost half (48 per cent) simply forget about leftovers or expired food because these are often out of sight at the back of the fridge.

Results might explain how last year, 788,600 tonnes of food — equivalent to the weight of 108 full load double-decker buses — was wasted in Singapore, according to statistics from the National Environment Agency.

The survey sought to highlight the contribution households make to the Republic’s food waste. It comprised a questionnaire of multiple-choice questions about food preparation, cooking and dining habits. Respondents were representative of the Singapore population aged 18-65 years old.

Other survey results include the finding that 69 per cent of respondents claimed to be passionate foodies, but 41 per cent of this group only think about food waste occasionally.

The Electrolux Food Waste At Home Survey was also commissioned to the launch the company’s six-week community initiative #happyplatesg, aimed at encouraging people to commit to clearing their plates at mealtime and reduce food waste.

“While kitchen confidence is on the rise, with more than 62 per cent are now making a concerted effort to eat at home more, the volume of the nation’s food waste each month is also growing,” said Mr Kenneth Ng, Electrolux’s head of major appliances, Asia Pacific. “It’s easy to forget when we are emptying our kitchen bins that we are all contributing to a much larger food waste issue.

“We are excited to kick-start this regional initiative in Singapore as we all have a responsibility to be more food waste aware and to commit to making changes at home to do our part.”

A dedicated microsite ( has been set up to provide the public with recipe inspiration, cooking tips, real-time campaign updates and advice on how to get involved.

Organised as part of the campaign, Electrolux also intends to help more than 1,000 families in need through the campaign’s beneficiary The Food Bank Singapore.

From now until Nov 22, the public is encouraged to post pictures of their emptied plates via Instagram with the hahstag #happyplatesg. Every three hashtags will be converted into an Electrolux Happy Food bundle, which means a total of 3,000 hashtags are required to create 1,000 food bundles.

Said Ms Nichol Ng, founder of The Food Bank Singapore: “Like us, Electrolux wants to increase awareness of food waste locally, but it is taking this to the next level by empowering Singaporeans to make a positive, long-term change in behaviour through kitchen education.”

2 companies win bid to operate food waste recycling machines in hawker centres
Awarded by the National Environment Agency, the bid is worth about S$257,000 and requires that the companies install and maintain the machines, as well as train cleaners and stallholders for a smooth operation.
Monica Kotwani, Channel NewsAsia 16 Oct 15;

SINGAPORE: Two hawkers centres - one in Ang Mo Kio and one in Tiong Bahru - could reduce their food waste by up to 95 per cent by early December, now that two companies have won a tender to install and maintain food waste recycling machines there.

VRM Operations will maintain the machine at Tiong Bahru Market, while Eco-Wiz will operate another at the Ang Mo Kio Block 628 Market, after earning the tender worth about S$257,000 from the National Environment Agency (NEA). The tender is part of a two-year pilot.

The machine has microbes to decompose food waste into reusable water within 24 hours. With little to no food waste, there will be less rubbish and that means less fuel is needed to transport the trash to incineration plants.

NEA announced the pilot in March this year. The tender was called on May 18 and closed on Jun 4 with five bids. Successful bidders have to install and maintain the food waste recycling machines, as well as train cleaners and stall holders.

In a statement to Channel NewsAsia, NEA said the two companies were chosen after evaluating their "price competitiveness" and the quality of their proposals. The agency added that the hawker centres were selected based on the number and mix of their stalls.

Ang Mo Kio hawker centre has almost 220 stalls, and the stall owners Channel NewsAsia spoke to were in favour of the pilot programme. However, they said that there are issues that need to be ironed out. For example, the cleaners are mostly elderly and may require coaxing to sort food from trash. Another issue has to do with the size of the stalls.

"We have one bin inside for our own rubbish," said Mr Kamsan Alias, co-founder of a Malay food stall at Ang Mo Kio Market. "Another one we've placed outside for the cleaner to put plates into. If they provide another two, where will we put it?"

Eco-Wiz, which will manage the machine at the market said that it will approach each stall owner to see how much and what type of waste it generates. Based on that, it will provide stall owners with bigger or smaller bins to collect food waste.

It will also conduct a separate study of waste collected from 10 different stalls, towards informing authorities what kind of waste is being generated by stalls, whether it is food, cartons or plastics.

The company has installed more than 30 machines around Singapore and one of them is at the Kopitiam in Changi Airport's Terminal 3. It took about two months for the company to train cleaners and for operations to run smoothly.

"At first I was not used to it," said Ms Tan Lee Ai, a cleaner at Kopitiam. " It was a bit troublesome to pour here and there. Slowly it's getting better and I'm used to it."

On top of training cleaners at the Ang Mo Kio Market, Eco-Wiz said it is also about getting the infrastructure right.

"For Changi Airport, the food is being collected at tray return stations," said Mr Michael Lee, a sales manager at the company. "For Ang Mo Kio Market, it's being collected by trolleys. So we will give them additional bins for them to do segregation on the trolleys. Cleaners will segregate the waste onto separate bins and transport the bins into the digesting system."

Eco-Wiz said it expects to take about three months for operations to run smoothly. It added that it will also have staff on standby to assist cleaners and stall owners for that period.

- CNA/hs