Half of food thrown away by Singapore households can be avoided: NEA study

Half of food thrown away by Singapore households can be avoided: NEA study

food waste
File photo of food waste. (Photo: National Environment Agency)

SINGAPORE: More than half of the food waste generated by Singapore households could have been avoided by not ordering, buying or cooking too much, a recent study found. 

The amount of food waste measured in the study conducted by the National Environment Agency (NEA) between November 2016 to March 2017 was equal to throwing away a 2.5kg bag of rice every week, the agency said in a news release on Sunday (Dec 3). 

The study involved collecting waste from 279 households over three days and sorting it to determine the amount of "avoidable" and "unavoidable" food waste including parts of food not intended for consumption such as bones and egg shells. 

A total of 443 families were also interviewed to understand their food waste management habits.

About one in four households said they had leftovers after a meal at least half the time. A quarter said they often threw away spoilt or expired food, mostly because they had bought too much food and had food hidden at the back of the fridge.

Half of them acknowledged that they could have taken steps to avoid food waste generated from leftovers after a meal, food expiring or becoming spoilt, and throwing away blemished fruits and vegetables.

More than 50 per cent of the families interviewed also suggested that supermarkets pack food items into smaller portions and for eateries to offer different dish portion sizes. 


Food waste accounts for about half of the waste disposed by each Singapore household every day. Rice, noodles and bread are the most commonly wasted food items, according to the study.

Food waste in Singapore has increased by about 40 per cent over the last 10 years, with the amount last year being equivalent to the weight of more than 3,500 MRT trains, NEA said. 

"At the current rate of waste disposal, we will require a new waste-to-energy plant to be built every seven to 10 years and a new landfill to be built every 35 years. This is not sustainable given Singapore’s land scarcity constraints," it added. 

The agency advised members of the public to buy, cook or order only what they need. Tips include making a shopping list to avoid impulse buys, asking for less rice or noodles based on one’s appetite, as well as using leftovers to cook the next meal.

File photo of food waste products
File photo of food waste products. (Photo: AFP/Jean-Christophe Verhaegen)

They are also advised to store raw foods that are not consumed within three to four days in the refrigerator to minimise nutrition loss as well as bacteria spoilage due to Singapore's warm temperature. 

"Food waste is an important issue to tackle as part of our efforts to move Singapore towards our vision of a Zero Waste Nation," said Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Ministry of Health and Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources at a grassroots event on Sunday.

"If everyone does their part to reduce food waste, we also save on the resources needed to produce the food, as well as to dispose of it. This in turn reduces our carbon footprint," she added. 

Source: CNA/kc