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Singapore needs to rethink food wastage: Masagos

In Singapore, about 790,000 tonnes of food waste was generated in 2014 - equivalent to each person throwing away two bowls of food every day.

SINGAPORE: There is a need to rethink how to reduce, reuse and recycle food waste amid an increase over the years, said Minister for Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli on Sunday (Jan 10).

In 2014, Singapore generated around 790,000 tonnes of food waste, equivalent to two bowls of food per person each day. Only 13 per cent of that amount was recycled.

Over the past 10 years, the amount of food waste Singapore generates has increased by about 48 per cent, and the number is set to increase as the country continues to grow in terms of population and affluence.

Singapore has only one landfill left - Semakau Landfill - and it is expected to run out of space if habits do not change. 

"Unfortunately, we do have old cultures that we need to modify to achieve this. As an example, (at) banquets where we produce so much food, and so much variety in the menu, I think, it is quite onerous to finish everything, and indeed, the intent is to ensure that you don't finish everything, to show there's a lot of food provided on the table. So these things need to change, without totally changing the way we live as a community in Singapore." 

Mr Masagos was speaking at one of the SGFuture Engagement Series sessions on "A Cleaner, Greener and Smarter Home", as part of efforts to engage with the public and seek their ideas on how to build a liveable and sustainable Singapore.

GETTING THE COMMUNITY INVOLVED

Some of the proposals put forward include teaching communities to make compost out of their food, and getting supermarkets to educate consumers about food management.

For 21-year-old Sumita Thiagarajan, she has already started to raise awareness of how much food is being wasted in Singapore. She started a project called #unhappyplatesg - a Facebook photo album featuring plates of uneaten food.

"I was just trying to raise awareness on food wastage, so together with the photos, I've put together a description about how much food Singaporeans waste. I hope that through the photos and through the descriptions, that friends and people that see it and share it can actually reduce their food intake," said Sumita.

Now, even her friends are sending her pictures of these so-called unhappy plates, to add to the collection.

For Eugene Tay, founder of Zero Waste SG, he is looking at developing an app that can match companies with leftover food to individuals or charities that need it.

"The other thing we're looking at is best practices and case studies from companies - companies who are doing their part to reduce food waste, we try to document these kind of best practices and make it available to their peers in the industry," he said. 

About 30 to 40 members of the public, including youths, stakeholders and partners from various associations, industries and non-governmental organisations shared their thoughts and plans on how to cut down on food waste, and move towards a zero-waste nation.