From crispy fried chicken to soft fluffy cake, food is an integral part to everyone’s life. Besides providing us with essential nutrients for our body to function well, food lovers will find that food adds colours to their life by satisfying their palate. However, this precious resource has not been fully utilised. In 2019 alone, Singapore generated 744 million kilograms of food waste. That is equivalent to the weight of 51000 double-decker buses!
Let’s take a look at some instances where food appears in our daily lives:
The similarity between all these pictures is – food waste! We may not realise that we may be contributing to food waste daily. Flash sales held at supermarkets often compel us to buy more than what we need. This often leads to expired food items that are not consumed in time. We also tend to order excess food to cater to extra guests during festive gatherings, leading to food wastage.
Where does food waste go and is it a cause for concern?
Food waste that has been disposed of is collected by public waste collectors. Recyclable food waste undergoes recycling, while the remaining gets transported to waste-to-energy incineration plants for incineration. The heat produced during burning is converted to electricity for use.
However, waste incineration generates carbon emissions and toxic gases, which contribute to climate change. Although Singapore’s incineration plants filter harmful gases before they are released into the atmosphere, this process requires energy.
The remaining incinerated ash and non-incinerable materials are sent to our one and only Semakau landfill, which is estimated to reach maximum capacity in 2035. Given our limited land size, we need to take action before this problem gets out of proportion!
Current efforts to reduce food waste in Singapore
Singapore aims to reduce 30% of the waste sent to Semakau landfill by 2030. A few notable initiatives relating to food waste include:
Besides NEWater, Singapore is looking into creating NEWSand using incineration bottom ash (IBA) from the Semakau Landfill, which has been used in making roads and benches. This reduces the amount of waste at the Semakau landfill and increases its lifespan.
Distribution of food to the needy
One of the charity organisations, The Food Bank Singapore has been conducting food rescue projects to redistribute surplus food to the underprivileged.
The organisation will also be setting up a central kitchen innovation hub for reconstructing and blast freezing donated food, followed by placing them in vending machines where beneficiaries can redeem hot meals.
On-site food waste digesters
Food waste digesters have been set up at places such as hotels, schools, and hawker centres. These digesters convert the segregated food waste into compost for landscaping purposes or water for non-potable use.
3 tips to reduce food waste
1. Be a smart shopper
Make a shopping list and buy only what you need. Avoid getting swayed by promotions held in the supermarkets. This also prevents us from spending unnecessarily.
2. Donate your food
Donate excess food items in good condition to organisations that can distribute them to the needy. These organisations include The Food Bank Singapore, Food from the Heart, Fei Yue Community Services, and Willing Hearts.
3. Repurpose food waste
Food waste, such as banana peels can be collected for composting to create fertilisers. We can also repurpose food waste into other useful items.
Let’s do our part!
Reducing food waste can be easily accomplished in a few simple steps. Find out more about food waste over in our recent Pepper’s Lab video. Let’s start practising these tips and generate less food waste today!
Written by Lim Kah Suan
Illustrated by Lee Ai Cing