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Food Wastage In Singapore: 6 Ways To Reduce Your Food Waste

Food wastage in Singapore is a pressing issue with both environmental and societal implications. 

Such food waste problems lead to the wastage of resources like land, water, and energy used in food production, processing, and transportation. So, providing different ways to reduce food waste is essential for sustainability.

This blog explores food waste in Singapore and offers strategies to reduce it, highlighting the importance of these measures to mitigate the consequences of food wastage and contribute to a sustainable future.

How Much Food Is Wasted In Singapore?

In 2022, Singapore faced a significant challenge with food waste, generating approximately 813,000 tonnes. 

Despite a slight reduction from the previous year, the volume remains substantial. Of this, only 18% was successfully recycled. This situation is particularly concerning given that Singapore imports over 90% of its food supply

Each household in Singapore disposes of more than half of the average 1.5kg of food daily, underscoring the urgency of addressing this issue.

Singapore's food waste challenges, low recycling rates, and heavy reliance on food imports pose a substantial problem. This burdens waste management and raises concerns about resource use and sustainability. 

Consequences Of Food Wastage In Singapore

In Singapore, food wastage is not just a matter of discarded food, it's a complex issue with far-reaching consequences. Here are the consequences of food wastage in Singapore:

Environmental Impact

  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Food waste decomposing in landfills produces methane, a greenhouse gas with a much higher warming potential than carbon dioxide. This contributes significantly to climate change, impacting global temperatures and weather patterns.

  • Odour Nuisance And Vermin Proliferation: Improperly managed food waste can create foul odours, attracting pests like rodents and insects. This poses a health hazard and can also disrupt local ecosystems.

  • Recycling Contamination: Food waste often contaminates other recyclables when not properly segregated. This contamination can render other materials, such as plastics and paper, unrecyclable, thereby reducing the effectiveness of recycling programs and increasing the volume of waste sent to landfills.

Societal Concerns

  • Imbalance In The Global Food System: While substantial amounts of food are wasted, there are still many facing food insecurity and hunger. This issue highlights inefficiencies in the global food distribution and allocation system.

  • Economic and Infrastructure Pressure

  • Need For Additional Waste Disposal Facilities: The growing volume of food waste necessitates the construction of more disposal facilities like waste-to-energy plants and landfills. This is particularly challenging for Singapore, where agricultural land is scarce.

  • Strain On Waste Management Infrastructure: The increasing volume of food waste puts considerable pressure on waste management systems in Singapore. This includes the need for more resources and technology to effectively manage and recycle food waste, adding to the country's economic burden.

1. Optimise Your Food Storage

Efficient food storage is a vital strategy in combating food waste in Singapore, and it begins at the individual level in our households. 

Proper storage techniques, such as cooling food to room temperature before refrigerating and using airtight containers, can significantly maintain the quality of the food supply.

It's crucial to consume refrigerated leftovers within 3-4 days and reheat them to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to ensure safety.

Furthermore, understanding and applying optimal storage conditions for different food types is essential. 

For instance, storing fruits and vegetables separately is beneficial as certain fruits emit gases that hasten the ripening and spoilage of nearby vegetables. Grains are best stored in dry, cool places, while dairy products should be kept in airtight containers. 

In retail and F&B industry, food retail establishments and supermarkets can play a role in reducing food waste by providing varied portions and indicating serving sizes, which helps consumers purchase what they need, thereby preventing excess food purchases.​

Manufacturers also play a crucial role in managing food waste. By offering smaller packaging options tailored to smaller families, they can help preserve freshness and reduce the tendency of consumers to overbuy, aligning with overall efforts to minimise food waste.

2. Craft Meal Plans

To effectively reduce food waste through meal planning, start by crafting a detailed weekly meal plan. This involves selecting recipes for each day of the week and noting the ingredients required for each meal. This planned approach helps in visualising and organising your meals ahead of time.

Once your meal plan is in place, create a precise shopping list based on the ingredients needed for these meals. Be specific with quantities to ensure you purchase just enough for your planned recipes. 

For instance, if a recipe calls for two tomatoes, list exactly that amount rather than buying a whole pack. This precision minimises the chances of buying more than you need, which can lead to food waste.

To further enhance this strategy, consider the concept of loose item shopping. Loose items are purchasing exact units of an item rather than pre-packaged quantities. 

Buying loose items can be useful for items like fruits, vegetables, or bakery goods. By selecting loose items, you can buy exactly the number or amount you need for your meal plan.

For example, if your meal plan requires three apples, you can buy three loose apples instead of a larger, pre-packaged bag. This strategy helps you stick to your meal plan and ensures you don't have excess food that might go to waste.

3. Practise Mindful Ordering And Buying Of Food

Practising mindful ordering and buying of food begins with assessing what you already have at home in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. This fundamental step helps avoid the unnecessary purchase of items you possess. 

Regularly take stock of your inventory, especially focusing on items that need to be used soon, and plan your meals around these ingredients. This approach minimises waste and ensures that you make the most of what you have.

When practising mindful ordering and buying food, it's also crucial to balance the advantages of bulk buying with the necessity of purchasing only what you need. Bulk buying can be economical and environmentally friendly, but it requires careful consideration of your consumption needs. 

Bulk buying works best for non-perishable items or products you use regularly and can store for a long period. For instance, buying grains, legumes, or canned goods in bulk can be a smart choice, as these items can be stored for an extended period. 

However, for perishable items, such as fresh produce or dairy, it's wiser to buy in amounts that you can realistically consume immediately..

Similarly, promotions like 'buy one, get one free' offers can be cost-effective as they are beneficial if you can consume all the food before it spoils. However, such offers should be carefully considered based on your regular consumption patterns and storage capabilities.

Combining inventory management, meal planning, and strategic purchasing can significantly enhance your efforts in mindful food consumption and waste reduction.

4. Repurpose Leftovers And Food Scraps

Repurposing leftovers and food scraps is a practical and inventive way to reduce food waste. For example, you can turn last night's roast chicken into a savoury chicken salad or create a delicious fried rice dish from uneaten rice. 

For vegetable peels, meat bones, and even wilted vegetables, they can be used to create nourishing broths or stocks. For instance, you could collect vegetable scraps like carrot tops, leek ends, or corn stems in a zip-lock bag and freeze them. 

After that, simmering these scraps can produce a flavorful vegetable stock, which can be a base for numerous soups and stews, extending the utility of these often discarded parts.

Additionally, replanting certain fruits and vegetables from your kitchen scraps is another innovative way to minimise waste. This reduces food wastage and provides a fresh, homegrown supply of produce. It's a sustainable cycle that brings both environmental and nutritional benefits.

Singaporean companies are also embracing the trend of repurposing excess food and scraps. For example, Crust Group is known for its unique approach to brewing. They utilise surplus bread and other food items to create distinctive beers and non-alcoholic beverages. 

This process involves fermenting the bread, which acts as a sugar source, and combining it with traditional brewing ingredients. This innovative method reduces food waste and offers a creative twist to the brewing industry, resulting in unique flavours and contributing to sustainability efforts.

5. Compost 

Composting is another practical and environmentally-friendly solution to food waste. Through composting, you can use kitchen leftovers as fertiliser for nutrient-rich soil.  

For effective composting, you can include fruit and vegetable scraps, tea bags, coffee grounds and eggshells. However, it's crucial to avoid composting food waste leftover items like meat, fish, bones, cooked food, and dairy products due to their tendency to attract pests and slow down the composting process.​

Many Singaporean households and communities have also embraced composting, transforming raw fruit and vegetable scraps into useful compost using simple techniques like worm composting or homemade compost bins. The National Parks Board offers valuable guidelines for those interested in DIY composting at home.

Moreover, several commercial establishments, including hotels, shopping malls and schools, are now segregating their food waste for on-site food waste treatment. These systems convert food waste into compost for landscaping or water for non-potable use, showcasing a proactive approach to food waste management.

6. Donate Excess Food

Donating excess food is a commendable way to reduce food waste while ensuring that the food is unexpired and safe for consumption. This practice minimises wastage and supports a more equitable distribution of resources by helping those in need.

Food Bank Singapore stands at the forefront of this movement. This organisation gathers food – which would otherwise go to waste – from farms, manufacturers, retailers and even individual consumers. 

They then distribute these food items to a network of beneficiaries, like, family service centres, soup kitchens and other Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs). 

Through extensive on-ground research and understanding of the operational models of various organisations, Food Bank Singapore has tailored its approach to meet the needs of those who require food aid effectively.

They have strategically placed more than 80 donation boxes around the island – in schools, corporate offices, shopping malls and condominiums – to encourage public participation in reducing food waste.

Another champion in this cause is Food from the Heart, a charitable organisation dedicated to mitigating food wastage by redistributing excess food to people in need. They accept donations at least three months before expiration to ensure food safety. These donations can be made on weekdays between 9 am and 6 pm. 

There is also a donation box outside their office where non-perishable food can be dropped off when it is closed. You can check out this link for more information about their address and community shop.

Conclusion About Food Waste In Singapore

As we reflect on the various practical methods to minimise food wastage in Singapore, it's clear that each step, whether it's composing or donating excess food is a small step towards sustainability. 

Semula, a plastic recycling company in Singapore, exemplifies this commitment to environmental sustainability. Focused on giving used plastics a new lease on life, Semula is about recycling and revolutionising the lifecycle of plastics. 

Our work transforms plastic waste into valuable, reimagined products, contributing significantly to the circular economy and reducing environmental impact.

Our Upcycling/Sustainability Workshops, Recycling Talks and collaborations with local businesses aim to inspire and educate the community about the importance of these actions. We believe in the power of collective efforts to make a substantial long-term impact on environmental sustainability.

Fill out the contact form below, and we will connect you with our team to offer a deeper understanding of our impactful work and how you can join our efforts in making Singapore a greener, more sustainable place.

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