Two pilot programmes to recycle food waste

Singapore will embark on two pilot programmes this year to encourage more people to recycle their food waste, said Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Grace Fu in Parliament yesterday, during the debate on her ministry's budget.

In a two-year trial, two hawker centres will each get a recycling machine to convert their food waste and leftover food into compost or water.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) will show the hawkers and cleaners how to segregate the food waste properly so it can be recycled. The two centres will be announced later.

The Government will also start a district-level food-waste recycling trial in Clementi, said Ms Fu, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office.

This will help the Government to see if it is economically viable to collect food waste from shopping malls, schools, hospitals, office buildings and other places, and treat all of it off-site at a centralised recycling facility.

Clementi was chosen as it is near the Ulu Pandan Water Reclamation Plant, where the food waste will be recycled. The pilot will look at the feasibility of recovering energy from food waste and used-water sludge at the plant.

Several MPs spoke yesterday about the need to tackle the growing mountain of food waste.

About 788,600 tonnes of food were thrown away last year, slightly less than the 796,000 tonnes in 2013 but still much more than the 606,100 tonnes in 2009.

Only 13 per cent of last year's waste was recycled, even though food now accounts for about 10 per cent of all waste in Singapore.

"Food wastage is never good, but it is even worse in Singapore, where we import 90 per cent of all we eat," said Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC).

Mr Yeo Guat Kwang (Ang Mo Kio GRC) said most of the food waste is generated by businesses.

He noted that a study by Nanyang Technological University students had found the majority of the waste is created by wholesalers and retailers who discard fruit and vegetables with blemishes. "Another major contributor of food waste is the food and beverage industry where the industrial practice is to produce more than what can be sold," he added.

Last year, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore and NEA commissioned a survey to find out people's perceptions, behaviour and attitudes towards food wastage.

Ms Fu also said yesterday that more will be done to tackle electrical and electronic waste, which is a growing concern.

The NEA will form a national voluntary e-waste recycling partnership programme to bring producers, retailers, recyclers and others together to raise awareness and to provide better recycling infrastructure.

The Government is considering restricting the use of hazardous substances in certain electrical and electronic equipment, and is also looking at options for a regulated system to treat and recycle both waste streams.

Recycling machine turns hotels' food waste into compost for garden

EACH day, the Fairmont Singapore and Swissotel the Stamford hotels recycle about 100kg of their combined food waste using an on-site recycling machine.

The hotels are next to each other in the City Hall area. They have their own kitchens but also share one kitchen, where they installed the recycling machine in 2012.

The Eco-Wiz Dry System Model DV100 cost $37,500, but has helped them to cut back on the food that is thrown away.

The machine converts about 5 per cent of the food waste it processes into compost.

This is used as fertiliser in the hotels' herb garden, or by food recycling firm Eco-Wiz in planting experiments at its education centre.

The rest of the waste is turned into liquid.

"The machine can process all food types, but we refrain from feeding in onions and citrus foods," said Mr Robert Stirrup, executive chef of both hotels.

The acidity of onions and citrus foods in the converted fertiliser affects the soil in the herb garden, he explained.

"We also try not to feed the machine shells and bones as they take a much longer time to process," he said.

To reduce their food wastage, the hotels also donate food to local charity Food From The Heart, which distributes food to the less fortunate.

They also reuse egg shells as a base for composting in the herb garden.

This article was first published on March 12, 2015.
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