85% of Singapore residents eat out every week – and rice and noodles are the most commonly wasted food items while doing so, NEA says

Singapore Press Holdings

Food wastage is a real problem in many countries and Singapore is no exception.

Food waste is one of the five largest waste streams generated in the city-state, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a statement last Saturday (Feb 16). The total food waste generated in 2017 was 809,800 tonnes – an increase of over 24,000 tonnes since 2015, according to statistics published on the NEA website.

Food waste is generated not only within the home, but at eateries as well.

According to NEA, 85 per cent of Singapore residents eat out at least once a week, with roughly one in 10 of them eating out every day – most frequently at hawker centres, coffee shops and food courts.

“Based on observations, carbohydrate items such as rice and noodles are two of the most commonly wasted food items when people eat out,” the agency added.

Consumers told NEA that some reasons for not finishing their food were that the portions were too big, that “they did not eat some of the ingredients”, and that they chose to buy more than enough food because they wanted a wider variety.

To combat food wastage in Singapore, NEA launched a new campaign last Saturday to encourage consumers to do three things – to order only what they can finish, ask for less rice and noodles, and say “no” to side dishes they won’t eat.

NEA said that it will engage consumers at 25 hawker centres and premises of partner organisations – including Dairy Farm Singapore, NTUC FairPrice, schools and higher learning institutions.

Visual reminders – such as wobblers, table-top stickers, wallscapes and pillar wraps – will also be implemented under the campaign.

Other methods of raising awareness on the campaign include using outdoor and digital platforms, and developing an edutainment web series featuring public personalities taking up food waste reduction practices.

Other initiatives in place

A number of other initiatives – launched by NEA and other organisations – aimed at reducing food wastage in Singapore have also been launched in recent years.

One of these initiatives launched two years ago involved setting up community fridges at void decks in Nee Soon South and Tampines so residents could donate food items they would have otherwise thrown away.

Read also: Tampines has communal refrigerators for fishermen to donate their catch to those who need it more – and people are loving the gesture

Last year, Swedish home appliance company Electrolux also launched a similar campaign – the Social Food Swap – where companies encouraged employees to swap food items in the office.

Read also: Employees at TripAdvisor, Oppo and Deliveroo are now involved in ‘food swapping’ – and have saved 25kg of food in 30 days

Another initiative, the Food Waste Reduction Ambassadors (FWRAs) programme by NEA, currently has 400 ambassadors who have been trained to spread the word on food waste reduction.

Schools have also “been enthusiastic in playing their part”, NEA said in its statement.  In 2018, more than 150 schools organised food waste reduction activities.

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