Singapore generates more than 800,000 tons of food waste every year and this trend continues to grow.
Food waste accounts for about 10 per cent of the total waste generated in Singapore, but only 13 per cent of the food waste is recycled. The rest of the food waste is sent for incineration.
The amount of food waste generated in Singapore has increased by almost 50 per cent in the past 10 years and is expected to increase with the growing population and economic activity.
Food waste has to be managed carefully. Recyclable objects will be contaminated by food waste when they are mixed together, thus compromising recycling efforts. Food waste also causes odor nuisances and vermin proliferation if it is not properly managed.
There is a need for a comprehensive strategy to manage food waste in a holistic manner.
Food Waste Management Strategies
(Adapted from NEA's recommendations)
Strategy 1: Prevent and reduce food waste at source
The most direct way to reduce food waste, albeit the most difficult to implement, is to avoid wasting food at the onset. Extra efforts are required to calculate the required food quantity in order to avoid over-purchase. Careful meal planning and food storage are also necessary to ensure maximum consumption of the food purchased and to lengthen the freshness of food and avoid premature expiry.
Strategy 2: Redistribute unsold / excess food
Unsold and excess food can be considered for redistribution instead of disposal. For example, supermarket and food establishments could donate their unsold and excess food to food distribution organizations.
Strategy 3: Recycle food waste
Food waste which cannot be avoided after going through strategies 1 and 2 should be recycled as far as possible.
Currently, food waste that is recycled is mainly homogenous food waste from food manufacturers, such as spent yeast/grains from beer brewing, soya bean, and bread waste. These are segregated at source and sold to recyclers for conversion into animal feed.
Strategy 4: Repurpose food waste
The next best approach will be to repurpose the food waste at the site where it is generated. This means to transform the food waste into another form where it can be useful. For example, food waste can go through a composter to become fertilizer for plants.
Food waste can also go through MURSUN's gasification systems to produce thermal energy for utilities. The residue is in the form of biochar which is stable, solid, rich in carbon, and can endure in soil for thousands of years. Biochar can be mixed with fertilizer to enhance the growth of plants.
With the above strategies, the amount of food waste will be reduced to the minimum.