Food for thought

Food for thought

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Final Thoughts

I am heartened to see that this problem of food waste is being recognised globally. Even more so when efforts are being made all over the globe, especially here in Singapore to tackle this problem of food waste.

As discussed there are many dimensions to food waste. They can be from the production, distribution and consumption habits etc. There is also a hidden problem of packaging that comes with this issue. Many schools and canteens have attempted to address this issue by swapping to more easily degradable paper containers and disposable utensils. They also have a disincentive by charging more for takeout containers even though it may affect their business. I believe such methods will only be fair if all the stalls agree to implement it so that there is a fairer pricing ground.
Hopefully this will eventually spread on to the hawker centres islandwide!

The combination of such programs and those by NGOs and major retailers, coupled with rthe use of technology and education will undoubtedly spell a more optimistic future where food waste in minimum. So lets all do our part! :)

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

FairPrice, by recycling and redistributing.

Hello again! I felt like I had to share this piece of news because it tackles head-on one of the more significant reasons of food waste from retailers.

It is the FairPrice "Great Taste Less Waste Selection" campaign! FairPrice, a local supermarket giant launched a pilot campaign in 2015 at  seven FairPrice Xtra stores located across the island. It is literally giving consumers a fair price for wholesome but not visually attractive produce, by repackaing and recyling the fresh produce. Such produce include fruits and vegetables like apples, pears, oranges, bittergourd and carrots. 

FairPrice has also developed the Food Waste Index which will enable it to track its progress on various food waste reduction initiatives under the Food Waste Framework. The Food Waste Index was developed based on a consultative study and measures the annual total food waste against the total retail space of all FairPrice stores across all retail formats islandwide. This will allow NTUC FairPrice to develop a more structured and sustainable approach to tackle the issue of food waste on multiple fronts.

Images courtesy of NTUC FairPrice

The concept of this pilot is repackaging produce. It is done by trimming or portioning wholesome fruits and vegetables that are left unsold due to blemishes, then selling them off at a lower price. This is to address the problem of wastage due to consumer selection of visually appealing produce only. I personally am in great favour of this campaign. To me, it is like killing 2 birds with one stone as FairPrice still manages to sell their products and consumers are getting quality produce at cheaper prices. It eliminated the problem of waste.

As a complement, FairPrice also launched an education campaign to create greater awareness of food waste among the public and educate customers on handling food with care. The campaign also looks to reshape mindsets on how wholesome fruits and vegetables with blemishes or bruises are still good for consumption. It also hopes to teach consumers to appreciate food more. The campaign garner public interest and support through in-store collaterals and social media.

Furthermore, FairPrice has also started a long-term partnership with an NGO, Food from the Heart (FFTH). 55 FairPrice stores are to donate unsold but still wholesome canned food products to the community through FFTH on a regularly. With the new collaboration with FFTH, these charities will be able to acquire the products directly from FFTH. This initiative will further reduce the total amount of food waste while increasing the donation of products to charities. FairPrice has targeted for all 126 FairPrice stores to donate directly to FFTH.

I am heartened to see that NTUC FairPrice has voluntarily taken a step to curb food waste. Coupled with existing programs that tackle packaging issue. I believe that this program has the potential to have lasting impacts. It would definitely be ideal if the other supermarket giants like Sheng Shiong Supermarket and Giant Supermarket would follow suit with their own variations of such campaigns. 


Monday, 26 October 2015

Apart from technology and all the fanciful machinery used to reduce the impact of food waste, There are also many self-initiated campaigns by businesses and NGOs. One of the most prominent ones is by the Food Bank Singapore. They are a non-government organisation that offer a place for companies and the public to deposit or donate their unused or unwanted food. The food will then be collected and allocated to the needy through a network of member beneficiaries such as family service centres, various types of homes, soup kitchens, and other VWO. As of 2015 they have organised more than 5 programmes in a bid to reduce food waste. One example is the 
The Food Rescue Programme, an initiative to salvage excess cooked foods from F&B establishments by reheating them and redistributing them to poorer households. 

This campaign is also like killing 2 birds with one stone as it feeds the underprivileged as well as prevents food wastage. 

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Food Wastage Footprint 2

Remember the Video? Here's part 2 with a more elaborate assement of the problem! :)

A little food for thought -  Do think twice the next time you decide to get a little extra food, just because you feel like it!

OMG Worms- vermicompost.

Technology is fantastic in helping to minimise food wastage. Whether from production, harvesting or distribution, technology has not failed to increase yields yet maintain the quality of food. However who is to say that with it, we cannot find alternative methods to minimise food waste or its emissions. From the many policies that have been introduced in a bid to curb this problem, the one I found most simple yet effective was one where certain Cape Town Hotels bought earthworm farms to decompse all their food waste in a way to minimise emission. It showed me that there are alternatives to technology, you just have to look in the most natural places, An article by Wyngaard & Lange (2013) evaluated the success of the various eco initiatives to recycle water and food waste. It also concluded that these initiatives would be a successful future endeavour to pursue.

Research by Wyngaard & Lange (2013) has found several Cape Town hotels were implementing vermicomposting - usage of earthworm farms to turn organic food waste into compost. The farms consisted of worm bins that houses the earthworms. It is multi-layered -firstly,the top layer of soil to which food waste is added to feed the earthworms. Secondly, the worm cast which is the rich soil produced by earthworms and initially contains the earthworms in the bin and lastly a tray at the bottom of the bin that collects the fluid produced by the earthworms. The compost produced by the earthworm farm after approximately six months may be harvested once it has turned into a crumbly dark soil (Jeffery et al. 2008). The fluid collected may then be converted into liquid compost as well. The compost should further be free of any foul odours and should have the smell of earth. It can then be used as fertiliser for crops. 

One version of a earthworm bin. Diagram taken from Wikipedia.

One hotel used the compost for their the herb garden which further provided sustainable ingredients to use in the kitchens. Another hotel reused their water directly through harvesting rainwater. The direct reuse of waste water allowed the hotels to irrigate their gardens during the warmer summer months with harvested rainwater. During the colder winter months, the hotels were able to irrigate their gardens solely through their rainwater harvesting initiatives as the gardens’ watering needs decreased.This significantly reduced their water consumption rates.

Overall these eco-initiatives were considered successes as each hotel managed to recycle up to 50 kg of food waste week. They also prevented roughly 38 wheeled dustbins of food waste per month from reaching landfills which would otherwise contribute to unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions and take up landspace.

Furthermore, from a ground survey carried out byWyngaard & Lange (2013), the various managements felt that government support would benefit the long term success of eco initiatives within hotels. 67% of the respondents in the Food and Beverage department and 78% of the respondents in the Rooms Division department were accepting of government  support for the implementation of eco initiatives within their hotels to ensure sustainable tourism by reducing food waste.

Honestly, I found this idea so simple yet effective and elusive. This may because in developed nations like Singapore, we are so reliant on technology that we sometimes fail to see that the solution to the problem of food waste disposal is so simple and natural. I would like to see more hotels in Singapore adopt such eco-initiatives as well!


Wyngaard, A., & Lange, R. (2013). The effectiveness of implementing eco initiatives to recycle water and food waste in selected Cape Town hotels. International Journal of Hospitality Management, (13), 309-316. Retrieved October 10, 2015, from effectiveness of implementing eco ini

Thursday, 15 October 2015


Technology is amazing and has been widely used to help us deal with problems. In the case of food waste, the use of technology in production, harvesting, packaging and transportation has greatly improved the shelf-life of food items while minimising wastage. This post shall be touching on how technology helps us in disposing food waste to be more eco-friendly. Currently, most organic waste is incinerated at Pulau Semakau. While this reduces land needed to store the waste, it release a unnecessarily great amount of greenhouse gases. Not to mention, it uses up fuels for the combustion which could have been used for other means to increase output.

In Singapore, major hotels like Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Hotel , Fairmount and Swissotel are segregating their waste for recycling. They are also using on site food waste treatment plants to convert the food waste into compost for landscaping purposes or water for non-potable use. As quoted from a Channel News Asia interview, 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.

Image result for on site food waste treatment singapore eco wiz
Employee at Fairmount sorting food waste into the bins.

According to the National Environmental Agency (2015), they are planning to launch a pilot food waste mangement project at two hawker centres by the end of the year. Namely, Tiong Bahru Market and Ang Mo Kio Block 628 Market. The machines will be similar to those used by the hotels and should be supplied by Eco-Wiz. NEA said the programme will focus on training cleaners to segregate the types of food correctly to put into the different bins to be put in the machines. Food waste segregation is important because the machines can only decompose organic food matter. Things like plastic wrappings cannot be degraded by the machines. 

If the project were to be successful, I believe the effects would be far-reaching as hawker centres are where most Singaporeans dine at, thus would likely have the largest amounts of food waste. This eco-friendly method of disposing our food waste would definitely reduce our carbon footprint significantly. However, I don't believe that this technology is a solving the root of the problem. While food waste may be inevitable because of the natural crop growth, weather conditions and the various processes our food goes through -from harvesting to distribution. I believe that excess food waste stems from our wasteful usage of resources, this means we have to make better choices. This requires time and effort to change people's habits. In my opinion, a more long-term solution would be to get people to change their choices and appreciate food more. 

One can even sign a pledge here to reduce food waste in SG!


Sunday, 11 October 2015

Whose duty?

Personally, I believe that the problem of food waste should be tackled through influencing consumer's choices. Furthermore,  an article by Williams et al. (2011)also states that food wasted by consumers and at food institutions has a higher accumulated environmental impact than food wasted in the distribution chain, and is therefore even more important to reduce. There is plenty of avoidable food waste in households as well, this is attributed to their shopping and dining habits. Williams et al. (2011) defined avoidable waste as food that was still edible at some point before disposable.

Thus I believe more policies and campaigns should be developed to target the consumers and their purchase habits or food preparation habits. To educate them on the impacts of their choices and wider impact of food waste on the environment and community.

Shockingly, the paper concluded that about two thirds of the food waste came from storage and one third from meals. Fruit, vegetables and dairy products dominated the wastage coming from storage. About one third of the total food waste consists of prepared food: home-cooked food, heated semi-prepared food or cold mixed food, such as salads. This shows how ill-informed the general public is about the notion of food waste. The paper also showed that households with a more lenient attitude towards wasting food, wasted more in connection with meals instead of storage. 

Image taken from

How storage causes food waste is that people tend to overstock on food when there are sales and discounts, especially in households that tend to buy all their groceries at one shot. Families end up not being able to finish the food and when its past the expiry date, they throw it away. This is a preventable problem.

Another reason the paper by  Williams et al. (2011) highlighted about over-purchasing is due to price. The prices for food bought in bulk tend to be cheaper per kg. Thus to enjoy cost-savings, consumers may tend to buy larger quantities than they can finish. This aspect may be more difficult to deal with as it involves the market mechanism and individual benefits for consumers and producers that produce in bulk.

Other studies show that consumers care much more about the household economy than the environment (Baker et al. 2009)However, I think it still boils down to beliefs and values. Is the environment worth that extra dollars for a smaller quantity of food? Are we willing to pay more, to sacrifice our benefits more for the environment? I think education would be the best tool to deal with this mindset change.


Baker, D., Fear, J., & Deniss, R. (2009). What a waste – an analysis of household expenditure on food. The Australia Institute. Retrieved October 15, 2015, from

Williams, H., Wikström, F., Otterbring, T., Löfgren, M., & Gustafsson, A. (2011). Reasons for household food waste with special attention to packaging. Journal of Cleaner Production, 24, 141-148. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2011.11.044