NEA says Singaporeans are wasting food on a colossal scale

Food is one of the five biggest sources of waste in Singapore

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Photo: YouTube sreengrab

The National Environment Agency (NEA) recently cited that food wastage in Singapore is one of the growing concerns in the country.

According to NEA’s statistics, 85% of Singaporean households are fond of eating out on a weekly basis. This means one family out of 10 chooses to eat out daily.

Hawker centres, coffee shops, and food courts are the most popular dining options.

The other types of waste sources include construction debris (1,609,300 tonnes), ferrous metal (1,378,800 tonnes), paper/cardboard (1,144,800 tonnes), and plastic (815,200 tonnes).

To prevent wastage, NEA is making an effort to convince the public to order only what they can consume to reduce waste.

To respond to the food waste problem, Amy Khor, senior minister of state for the Environment and Water Resources, rolled out a year-long campaign as part of the Year Towards Zero Waste drive.

This campaign calls for citizens dining out to order what they can consume. The are advised to eat less rice or noodles if they cannot finish the food and do not ask for side dishes that they don’t like or do not intend to eat.

With a total of food wastage of 809,000 tonnes recorded in 2017, this has become a big problem in Singapore.

Both household and eateries outside the home are major contributors to the country’s food wastage.

More rice and noodles put to waste
NEA observed that carbohydrate-rich products such as rice and noodles are the most common food items that are being wasted by diners.

When asked why some are not able to finish their food, customers cited that the servings were too big to handle while others did not like some of the ingredients.

Some claimed they are fond of over-ordering so there is more choice.

In its campaign to combat food wastage, NEA will be providing visual reminders to engage consumers at 25 hawker centres and partner groups such as Dairy Farm Singapore, NTUC FairPrice, schools and universities about the zero waste drive.

The agency will be using wobblers, table-top stickers, wallscapes, and pillar wrap to strengthen the drive.

To intensify awareness on the campaign, outdoor and digital platforms, along with an edutainment web series that showcases public personalities will be screened promoting the reduction of food wastage.

In recent years, NEA and other organisations have launched related initiatives to reduce food wastage in Singapore.

In 2017, an initiative was rolled out that created community fridges at void decks in Nee Soon South and Tampines, enabling residents to donate edible items instead of throwing them away.

In the previous year, Electrolux, a Swedish home appliance firm, had a similar campaign called the Social Food Swap. This is where firms encouraged the staff to swap food items in the office.

The Food Waste Reduction Ambassadors (FWRAs) programme is one of NEA’s early initiatives with 400 ambassadors trained to provide tips on minimizing food wastage.

In 2018, over 150 schools participated in the campaign implementing their own food wastage reduction initiatives.