796,000 tonnes of food dumped

SINGAPORE - A record 796,000 tonnes - the weight of about 1,420 fully loaded Airbus A-380s - of food was thrown away last year, according to National Environment Agency statistics released this month.

This marks a steep 13.2 per cent rise from the 703,200 tonnes dumped in 2012, and is the sharpest spike in at least six years. Before last year, food waste had typically gone up between 1.6 and 6.7 per cent year on year since 2007.

"It's an extremely steep rise and it's rather disturbing that there is a distinct lack of awareness and nonchalance to food security issues," said Singapore Environment Council chief executive Jose Raymond on March 18.

The amount of food waste, which includes cooked food and expired packaged products, last year is a 42.4 per cent leap from the 2007 figure, far outpacing the 17.7 per cent growth in national population.

Mr Raymond blamed rising consumer affluence, a growing food industry that is "constantly bringing new delicacies to the table", and a lack of public awareness on food waste.

An affluent society has resulted in habits such as "not finishing up our food (because) the taste is not up to par or the inclination to load up our plates when in front of a buffet line", said Food and Beverage Managers' Association president Cheong Hai Poh.

The problem has also permeated every link in the supply chain, said Minister of State for National Development Maliki Osman in Parliament last week.

Among those culpable included food manufacturing and catering industries, food and beverage outlets as well as hotels.

Despite the massive amount of food being thrown out, recycling remains low. Last year, only about 13 per cent of the total was recycled, up 1 per cent from the previous year. This comprises mainly clean food waste such as spent grains from beer brewing and bread waste, which are converted to animal feed.

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