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Everyone Urged To Adopt 3 Easy Habits To Reduce Food Waste

16 Feb 2019

Consumers are called upon to participate in Year Towards Zero Waste efforts by adopting three simple habits that can make a big difference in reducing food waste.

Singapore, 16 February 2019 – According to a consumer study commissioned by the National Environment Agency (NEA), 85 per cent of Singapore residents eat out at least once a week, with about one in 10 respondents stating that they do so every day. Based on observations, carbohydrate items such as rice and noodles are two of the most commonly wasted food items when people eat out. Hence, in addition to encouraging individuals to reduce food waste generated within their households, NEA is launching a new campaign aimed at encouraging consumers to adopt three simple habits to reduce food waste when eating out.

2          Consumers who ate out did so most often at hawker centres, coffee shops and food courts. Some of the reasons cited by respondents for food wastage when eating out were that they found the portions too big and they did not eat some of the ingredients. The consumers interviewed also shared that they tended to buy/order more than they could consume as they wanted variety.

3          Food waste is one of the five largest waste streams generated in Singapore, and the second largest waste stream disposed of for incineration. Thus, there is potential for greater food waste reduction. The campaign, launched today by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, at Yishun Park Hawker Centre, involves highlighting three key actions that consumers can adopt to reduce food waste. They are:

1. Order only what you can finish 
2. Ask for less rice/noodles if you can’t finish them
3. Say ‘No’ to side dishes you won’t eat

4          Under the campaign, NEA will be engaging consumers at points-of-consumption at 25 hawker centres and premises of partner organisations such as Dairy Farm Singapore, NTUC FairPrice, Prime Supermarket and Sheng Siong Supermarket, and schools and institutions of higher learning. Visual reminders – such as wobblers, table-top stickers, wallscapes and pillar wraps – will provide behavioural cues to remind consumers of the actions they can take to reduce food waste. NEA is working with more partners to display these to encourage shoppers and diners to take simple actions to reduce food waste at their premises.

5          Publicity will be carried on outdoor and digital platforms, and an edutainment web series will be developed that will shadow public personas to discover how they can incorporate food waste reduction practices into their day-to-day lives to inspire viewers to adopt food waste reduction habits.

6          “We have designated 2019 as the Year Towards Zero Waste, to rally everyone to care for our environment and treasure our resources. Singaporeans love their food, yet food waste is the second largest waste stream to be disposed of. There is clearly more we can and should do together. Through this food waste reduction campaign, we hope to get every individual to take a pause before they decide on their food options and choices. We would like to create a pervasive culture where everyone will have an instinct to ‘buy, order and cook just enough’, encourage their friends and family to do the same, and even influence the practices and behaviours at their workplaces towards reducing food waste,” said CEO of NEA, Mr Tan Meng Dui.

Rise in ground-up initiatives to tackle food waste

7          The growing awareness on food waste has led to a proliferation of innovative ideas to tackle food waste, for example, the setting up of community fridges to encourage residents to donate unwanted food products that are still good for consumption, instead of discarding them. At Nee Soon South and Tampines, community fridges have been successfully introduced at void decks by the Nee Soon South and Tampines North Citizens’ Consultative Committees respectively, where residents and community partners can place their food donations into the fridges for people in need to take. Schools have also been enthusiastic in playing their part, with more than 150 schools having organised food waste reduction activities in 2018.

8          Another initiative is Foodscape Collective, a community of enthusiasts working towards creating sustainable and resilient food systems. Some of their initiatives include facilitating the redistribution of excess and yet-to-expire food and composting of kitchen scraps. “Foodscape Collective believes that through the collaborative efforts of society, businesses and the Government, food waste from all parts of our food supply chain can be significantly reduced. This year, Foodscape Collective is registering as a not-for-profit to enable more members to step up and conduct food waste reduction talks and workshops for schools and organisations. We also work closely with local communities to share on and encourage community composting, and connect food waste producers with composting sites that channel compost to home gardeners and community gardens”, said Pui Cuifen, a founding member of Foodscape Collective. Please refer to the Annex for more examples of growing on-the-ground momentum to reduce food waste.

9          To foster more community interest in such projects, NEA has been ramping up engagement efforts, such as through the Food Waste Reduction Ambassadors (FWRAs) programme. To date, more than 400 ambassadors have been trained to help spread the word on food waste reduction with their communities, families and friends.

10        NEA invites organisations and individuals who are interested to implement their own food waste reduction initiatives to collaborate with us under the Food Waste Reduction Outreach Programme. In January 2019, Dr Khor announced the ‘Towards Zero Waste Grant’, which supports individuals, interest groups, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), grassroots organisations and corporations keen on kick-starting zero waste initiatives. Those interested in applying for the grant or collaborating with us can contact NEA for more information.

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For more information, please contact us at 1800-CALL NEA (1800-2255 632) or submit your enquiries electronically via the Online Feedback Form or myENV mobile application.


Examples of ground-up efforts to tackle food waste

treatsure I treat food as treasure!

“The idea came to me when I saw my family throwing out expiring food items, and I wondered if it was possible to develop an app that reallocates excess food resources.   After doing research with my fellow NUS computer science buddy Kenneth, I realised this issue was even more widespread in retail spaces. That’s why we developed our app treatsure – by redistributing surplus food from businesses to consumers, we prevent perfectly good food from being thrown away!

Since our app launched in 2017, we’ve also created Asia-Pacific’s first takeaway buffet-in-a box experience. Now, people can assemble their own hotel buffet box from just $10, while helping supportive hotels like Grand Hyatt, Swissotel, Fairmont and Novotel, save food. Next up, we'll be redistributing surplus grocery produce to consumers at great value and convenience.

More Singaporeans and local businesses are now pro-sustainability, but for many, more awareness and action is needed. If I had only one tip to share, it would be to think twice about disposing surplus food items in your household. Search online and find creative ways to repurpose them!”

  • Preston Wong, CEO and co-founder of treatsure, Singapore’s first mobile reservation platform connecting businesses with surplus food to consumers.

Good for Food

“As Singaporeans, we often throw   away perfectly good food, when there are as many as 1 in 10 who struggle to put food on the table. As I started to think more deeply about  food insecurity, it made me realise the severity of food waste in Singapore – and that spurred me on my mission to reduce food waste with technology.

We created a smart Internet of Things (IoT) dustbin that can seamlessly measure, track and identify food waste through sensors and image recognition technology. These bins work best with buffet restaurants, so by providing hoteliers data on what and how much they’re overproducing, they can act to match supply and demand. When more businesses play a part, overall food waste will reduce drastically.

My hope is that more people will consider the effects of climate change, and on my part, I want to inspire the next generation because they’re the next batch of CEOs who will make important decisions that affect sustainability. I hope more young entrepreneurs will think about creating business not just for the money, but because it brings value to people and the world around us.”

  • Rayner Loi, the co-founder of Good for Food, an IoT start-up that empowers hotels and large commercial kitchens with data analytics to understand their food waste generation and reduce their food waste, costs and environmental footprint.


“Excess and imperfect produce from suppliers are often discarded, and these otherwise perfectly good fruits end up in landfills. We save these fruits from going to the trash by transforming them into cold-pressed juices, teas and popsicles – delicious, healthy treats that customers are more willing to buy.

Over time, we’ve created many recipes that our customers enjoy, such as our Pear Chamomile Green Tea. Knowing that we deliver healthy products that reduce food waste and save the environment makes it even more satisfying.

Fruits with blemishes are perfectly safe to eat. If you judge a fruit by its looks, there’s going to be a lot of wastage. But if you know how to identify a good fruit despite its appearance, you still get a fruit that’s both nutritious and tasty.”

  • Augustine Tan, co-founder of UglyFood, an F&B social enterprise that fights food waste as a result of cosmetic filtering.