Cutting down food waste with machines

Cutting down food waste with machines

The National Environment Agency called a tender for a food waste management pilot to be run at two hawker centres. One company, Eco-Wiz, says it will be bidding for the tender.

SINGAPORE: Food waste accounts for about 10 per cent of total waste generated in Singapore. According to the National Environment Agency (NEA), 788,600 tonnes of food waste was generated in 2014, and only 13 per cent – or 101,400 tonnes of that amount was recycled.

The rest of it was disposed of at incineration plants and then landfilled.

NEA this week called a tender for a food waste management pilot to be run at two hawker centres.

One food waste management company, Eco-Wiz, said it will be bidding for NEA's tender. It will have to provide on-site recycling machines as well as relevant training for cleaners and stall-holders. It has helped more than 30 food establishments in Singapore recycle their food waste.

Swissotel Merchant Court’s General Manager Rainer Tenius said: "We are recycling approximately 1 tonne of food waste every day which, considering our total waste in our hotel, is approximately a 45 per cent reduction of our waste."

The hotel uses a waste disposal system to do the job. After food waste is segregated, it is dumped in another machine. Inside, microbes will decompose the food waste, which is done at a rate much faster than under natural conditions.

The sludge produced is then run though a grease separator and filtered. The process produces water that can be reused for various purposes, such as landscaping.

While the process looks simple, Eco-Wiz said the biggest challenge will be to train users about the importance of segregating food waste.

Eco-Wiz CEO Renee Mison said many cleaners feel “stressed out” about food segregation.

"We have a training programme and we simply train them on how to segregate the food waste with two different bins and we are going to tell them that it is important to segregate it from the source,” she said.

Marina Bay Sands uses a similar waste management system. It has five of such machines and recycles about 1.3 tonnes of food waste a day. The integrated resort is already looking at ways of improving its processes.

Executive Director of Sustainability at Marina Bay Sands Kevin Teng said: "We are looking at real tech-savvy ways to understand where our waste comes from. We are constantly looking at new and better technologies - whether it's a better enzyme mix or a new anaerobic process, whatever it is, I think we'd want to be at the forefront of that."

NEA's pilot food waste management programme is expected to be launched by the end of this year.

Source: CNA/dl