What Could Be The Future For Food Waste Management In Singapore?


This week will be featuring another knowledge sharing post to raise awareness of the food waste issue in Singapore. In our earlier posts, we have talked about the positive impact of embracing UglyFood to combat the problem of food waste in Singapore. We will now be looking at the bigger picture - How is food waste being managed in Singapore and what more could possibly be done?


The amount of food waste generated annually in Singapore is equivalent to about 2 rice bowls per person. However, only about 18 per cent of food waste generated is being recycled. With Singapore’s limited land space, an increase in the amount of food waste generated year-by-year would create an even greater strain on our resources. In the long term, this is not sustainable and it has been projected that our only landfill (Semakau Landfill) will run out of space in the next 15 years.

Food Waste Management

As such,  implementing food waste management has become a critical part in ensuring a sustainable environment for Singaporeans to live in the long run. Food waste management plays an important role to reduce the amount of food waste sent to landfills and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases generated. Previously, we have looked at minimizing food waste- how embracing UglyFood can help to avoid food wastage caused by surplus/blemished fruits and vegetables. Another key approach to food waste management involves the segregation of food waste for treatment and recycling.

NEA has previously launched a food waste recycling guide aimed to educate premise owners and operators who contribute to generate food waste about proper food waste segregation and food waste recycling/treatment methods. Some of the recommendations include installing coloured SS EN 840 certified Garbage Bins and plastic receptacles to help with segregation and collection of food waste.


Could More Be Done At The Household Level?

The guide currently only targets F&B business owners and Singapore mandates that large commercial and industrial food waste generators will be required to segregate their food waste from 20204 onwards. This makes me wonder if the practice also be extended to households in Singapore? 

A survey conducted by Singapore Environment Council highlighted that ⅓ of their respondents throw away more than 10% of their food on a weekly basis.The segregation of food waste into plant and non-plant based waste could also be a common practice employed by all households as well. This would greatly facilitate the entire food waste recycling process in Singapore. 

I do recall an experience living in an Airbnb in South Korea. I remembered having to throw away all food waste into this small bag that was labelled “food waste”. The house rules also emphasized that we were strictly not allowed to dispose of food waste in the common bin. I did some research and discovered that a law was passed in 2013 to implement  a “Pay As You Throw” system. Food waste is required to be disposed in biodegradable bags and a per household fee will be charged based on the weight. There are common recycling areas in their neighbourhoods to allow them to properly deposit their food waste. South Korea is now recycling about more than 95% of their food waste. 

This experience made me wonder if a similar practice would be as effective in Singapore? A study has highlighted the challenges of implementing food waste segregation at the household level. These challenges include having a strong national awareness campaign and sufficient resources to educate households and build the necessary infrastructure. For this practice to be effective among households, it would require lots of support and understanding about our dire situation in the years to come.  Would Singaporean households be able to collectively contribute and help solve the food waste problem one day?

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