According to the Straits Times News Article, a staggering 788,600 tonnes of food were thrown away in 2014 with only 13 per cent of last year’s food waste was recycled (Boh, 2015). This is a tremendous waste of resources for this country.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) would be launching a new campaign to tackle food wastage and educate people on the poor habits of overstocking of food at home and having to discard expired the food that were unconsumed.
However, I feel that NEA’s attempt in trying changing the consumption patterns is not as effective as taking a multipronged approach in addressing food waste in our food cycle from the production, distribution, retail to consumption.
Food waste is created due to
- Discarding of spoilt food from improper storage or handling; or
- Discarding of ‘unsellable’ or ‘ugly’ food although they are still edible,
- Discarding of excessive leftovers
Supermarkets, wholesale and wet markets and farms would do cosmetic filtering where food that look less than perfect are discarded although it is edible (SaveFoodCutWaste.com, 2015). Moreover, fresh produce are perishable and could not be kept for sale for long.
NEA can consider adopting the “ugly food movement” which is quite successful in Europe and Australia – where edible food that are in odd shapes are also put up for sale instead of being discarded (Dan Mitchell, 2015). For a start, our NTUC Fairprice supermarket can do their part by adopting the ‘Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables’ that was launched by Intermarché, a French Supermarket (Martha Cliff , 2015).
Alternatively, more of the edible but ‘unsellable’ food can be donated to soup kitchens, such as ‘Willing Hearts, which offers cooked food to the needy residents.
Food & Beverage (F&B) establishment ought to invest in managing their inventory of food stock, where they order or prepare more food than required (Savefoodcutwaste.com, 2015). Currently, the voluntary welfare organization, ‘Food From The Heart’, help to channels unwanted bread from hotels and bakeries to needy families and individuals, and more can be done to encourage other bakeries to participate in the programme.
During events and social functions, it is common to over-order the food for the guests. Most of the leftovers are gone to waste as the practice of ‘tau-paoing’ the food can be seen as embarrassing. In additional, the ‘tau-pau’ or doggy-bag practice is also not recommended especially after NEA implemented the mandatory time-stamping of catered food.
Lastly, food waste from homes is substantial as many people tend to overstock of food at home and the food could end up not being consumed and expire. The Food Bank Singapore is making an effort to collect excessive food from the affluence and redistribute them to the needy through the various volunteer welfare organizations.
If NEA is committed to reducing the food waste to as part of the ‘Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015’, there should be much stronger network and synergy between itself, the stakeholders in the food cycle, and the welfare organizations. The importance of food security should also be emphasized in its public awareness campaigns
Boh, Samantha. (2015). NEA To Launch Campaign To Reduce Food Waste Next Week. Singapore News & Top Stories – The Straits Times. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/nea-and-ava-to-launch-campaign-to-reduce-food-waste-next-week?login=true. [Accessed 29 November 2015].
Dan Mitchell. (2015). WHy People Are Falling in Love With “Ugly Food”. TIME. [ONLINE] Available at: http://time.com/3761942/why-people-are-falling-in-love-with-ugly-food/ . [Accessed 29 November 2015].
Anonymous. (2015). Food Wastage in Singapore. SaveFoodCutWaste.com. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.savefoodcutwaste.com/food-waste/food-wastage-in-singapore/. [Accessed 29 November 2015].
Martha Cliff (2015). French Supermarket Sells Ugly Fruit And Vegetables At Discount To Combat Food Waste. Daily Mail Online. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/food/article-2693000/Forget-ugli-fruit-meet-ugly-fruit-bowl-French-supermarket-introduces-lumpy-misshapen-fruit-vegetables-sold-30-discount-combat-food-waste.html. [Accessed 29 November 2015].
Food Bank Singapore. (2015). [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.foodbank.sg/. [Accessed 29 November 2015].