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How to Reduce Food Waste in Singapore

Published: 5 September 2023, Tuesday

How to Reduce Food Waste in Singapore

Singapore, renowned for its vibrant and diverse culinary offerings and a nation-wide love of food, faces a significant challenge: escalating food waste. This problem not only has environmental repercussions but also deeply affects the individuals and communities around us on a personal level. The goal of reducing food waste is thus key in pursuing an eco-conscious and sustainable future for all where everyone can gain access to their fair share of daily necessities.

Food from the Heart is one of the local organisations steadfastly committed to alleviating hunger and ensuring food security in Singapore, while also advocating for responsible food consumption and waste management. By partnering closely with individuals, businesses, and community groups, we strive to uncover effective ways to reduce food waste, in the hopes of benefiting both our environment and the underprivileged.

Understanding Food Insecurity & Food Waste in Singapore

Despite Singapore’s renown on the world stage for its economic success, that does not mean there is universal prosperity across the island. Food insecurity – being unable to afford sufficient quantities of affordable or nutritious food – remains a significant challenge to those less fortunate. Coupled with this is the challenge of food waste, a concern that’s been increasingly attracting popular attention in recent years.

Though food insecurity and food waste may seem like completely different problems at first glance, they can be traced back to similar socioeconomic factors.

Let’s take a look first at the status of food waste in the country. The National Environment Agency (NEA) reported that in 2022 alone, Singapore generated approximately 813,000 tonnes of food waste, of which only 18% was recycled.

The primary contributors to this waste are diverse, spanning households, businesses, and food establishments. Households often discard food due to overbuying or improper storage, while businesses, particularly in the food and beverage sector, contribute to food waste through inefficient processes and overproduction.

So how does this link back to food insecurity?

The most straightforward answer is that most food waste is discarded not because the food is inherently spoiled or bad, but because there was an excess of it that wasn’t used properly. Discarded food waste that is still good and hygienic could actually be better reallocated to alleviate hunger and food insecurity, rather than just being sent to a landfill.

By addressing critical gaps in our waste management system and implementing better recycling initiatives, there is an opportunity to both reduce food waste in the country, and alleviate food insecurity at the same time.

The Environmental and Social Impact of Food Waste

Let’s dive deeper into the impact of food waste on our environment and society.

When we waste food, we are not just discarding the food itself, but also the resources – water, energy, and land – that went into producing it.

Environmentally, food waste contributes to climate change by producing methane, a potent greenhouse gas, as it decomposes in landfills. This process also takes up valuable landfill space, an issue of particular concern in land-scarce Singapore. Moreover, the unnecessary production of wasted food depletes natural resources and contributes to deforestation and biodiversity loss.

On the social front, food waste is a stark reminder of the imbalance in our global food system. While we discard substantial amounts of food, many in Singapore and around the world experience food insecurity and hunger. And as mentioned above, much of the food waste – think expired canned goods from your pantry, or stale bread from a cafe – that is thrown away could in fact have gone to helping the food insecure instead.

Organisations like Food from the Heart are constantly working to bridge the gap between these two issues through our food redistribution and fundraising initiatives. We strive to help those in vulnerable communities access the food they need, while also minimising food waste in other areas of the community.

However, a single organisation cannot do it all. That’s where individuals like you come into the picture.

As you gain an understanding of the gravity of food waste and its far-reaching consequences, you can take the initiative to effect change in your community. Whether that means relooking your weekly grocery list, utilising leftovers better, or donating ‘leftover’ food to food banks before they spoil, you can make an impact in the world.

Each of these decisions may seem small to you, but they make a world of difference in mitigating food waste's negative environmental and social impact. Read on to discover some practical ways on how to reduce food wastage in your home in Singapore:

Ways to Reduce Food Waste at Home

1. Use meal planning and smart shopping techniques

Planning meals in advance allows you to create a precise shopping list, ensuring you only buy what you'll realistically consume. This strategy helps avoid over-purchasing and subsequent food waste. Complement this with smart shopping — opt for loose items like fruits or individual bakery items, which allows you to purchase the exact quantities needed. This not only reduces food waste but also ensures that you have just the right amount of ingredients for your planned meals.

2. Use proper food storage to minimise spoilage and unnecessary waste

Proper food storage plays a crucial role in reducing food waste in Singapore. Correct storage methods can significantly extend the shelf life of food, preventing spoilage. For instance, fruits and vegetables should be stored separately, as some fruits emit gases that can hasten the ripening of vegetables. Additionally, understanding the optimal storage conditions for different types of food — such as dry, cool places for grains and airtight containers for dairy products — can further prevent waste.

3. Use, repurpose, or get creative with leftovers and food scraps

Getting creative with leftovers and food scraps is another way to reduce food wastage in Singapore. Leftovers can be reinvented into new dishes, while food scraps, like vegetable peels or meat bones, can be boiled into nutritious broths. Wilting vegetables can even find new life in stir-fries or baked goods, extending their shelf life further. They can even be used for non-eating activities, such as dyeing clothes, or serving as stamps in art projects.

4. Start composting your scraps

Composting is a sustainable method to reduce food waste in Singapore. It involves converting organic waste into nutrient-rich soil conditioner, reducing landfill contributions and enhancing garden soil. Composting at home can be done with fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and eggshells, turning waste into a valuable resource.

5. Donate excess food instead of throwing it away

If you've purchased more non-perishable food than you can consume, consider donating it to Food from the Heart rather than throwing it away. We will then redistribute it to those in need, transforming your donation into a tangible impact on someone else’s daily life. However, please ensure that all food donations have at least three months remaining before their expiry date. Our food donation box is conveniently located outside our warehouse at 130 Joo Seng Road #03-01, Singapore 368357, and operates between 9am - 6pm on Mon - Fri.

6. Order only what you can finish

When you're out for lunch or on a dinner date, keep theese questions in mind; how much do you normally eat? How hungry are you at the moment? Making mindful choices when you are eating out will help to ensure that you don't over order and end up wasting the food. For more tips like this, check out the Clean Plate Campaign - Food from the Heart's initiative to raise awareness on food waste.

Reducing Food Waste in Businesses and Food Establishments

Businesses and food establishments in Singapore play a significant role in the food waste cycle. However, they also have the power to implement changes that can significantly reduce food waste.

1. Enhance collaborations with local food suppliers and farmers

Businesses can work closely with food suppliers and farmers to better align their procurement processes with actual demand. This means purchasing only the amount of food that they can realistically use or sell, thereby avoiding overstocking. Overstocking often results in excess food that cannot be used before it spoils, leading to unnecessary waste. This strategic collaboration not only reduces food waste but also supports a more sustainable and efficient food supply chain.

2. Implement food inventory management systems

Food inventory management systems can help businesses monitor their food stocks more accurately, allowing them to control waste effectively. These systems can provide real-time data on food usage, enabling businesses to make informed decisions about purchasing and portion sizes.

3. Minimise plate waste through proper portioning

In the food and beverage industry, controlling portion sizes is a key strategy to minimise waste. By offering a range of portion sizes, establishments can cater to different customer appetites. This means customers who prefer smaller meals can opt for less, reducing the likelihood of uneaten food being left on the plate. It's a simple yet effective way to reduce food waste, while also catering to a wider range of customer preferences.

4. Support surplus food donation programmes for excess food

Surplus food donation programmes are another effective way to reduce food wastage in Singapore. Food from the Heart runs two initiatives that align with this goal: the Bread Run and Marketplace campaigns. The Bread Run programme collects unsold bread from bakeries and hotels across the city, while the Marketplace programme receives items from supermarkets near expiry or with damaged packaging. These initiatives ensure that surplus food is not wasted but instead distributed to those in need.

Food from the Heart has previously collaborated with notable organisations like Singapore Red Cross, Raffles Parent Association, and The Kindness Ripple to extend the impact of our initiatives. Additionally, corporate volunteers from organisations including NTUC Fairprice Foundation Ltd, Morgan Stanley Foundation Inc, and Bloomberg Singapore Pte Ltd, have also joined in these initiatives. Together, these partnerships further amplify the impact of the fight against food waste in Singapore.

Playing an Active Part in Reducing Food Waste

In Singapore, the daily discarding of substantial quantities of edible food amplifies environmental challenges and makes the reality of food insecurity in the country even more stark. Yet as an individual – whether working on your own or in collaboration with an organisation – you hold the power to significantly contribute to the reduction of food waste.

Food from the Heart, a leading non-profit food charity organisation in Singapore, is committed to this cause and provides numerous donation and volunteer opportunities for involvement including youth volunteer opportunities for the younger generation. These programmes instil a sense of civic responsibility and environmental consciousness in volunteers, educating them on the importance of reducing food waste as well as the reality of food insecurity in Singapore. We also run regular food donation drives, collecting non-perishable food items for distribution to those in need.

If you're interested in supporting this cause, your contribution to Food from the Heart can play a pivotal role in reducing food waste, amplifying eco-consciousness, and providing essential support to those in need. Take action today and join us in this vital endeavour through making a donation or signing up for volunteer opportunities.

Join us in our Clean Plate Campaign and help raise awareness on food waste! The Clean Plate Campaign emphasises the importantance of reducing food waste by creating awareness of the environmental and societal impact of food waste. 
Help us reach our goal of 10,000 pledges to raise $10,000 for communities in need! For every pledge taken BY YOU to reduce food waste, Bayer in Singapore will donate $1 to Food from the Heart. Take the Clean Plate pledge today!


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