NEA launches E-book on food waste management strategies

The National Environment Agency (NEA) has issued a guidebook to help retail food establishments minimise waste across the supply chain on Monday (24 October).

The e-book is accessible on the National Environment Agency’s (NEA) website. It provides a step-by-step guide on how retail food establishments can develop a food waste reduction plan tailored to the needs.

The guidebook was developed by the NEA and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA). It was launched by Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor at an awards ceremony for hotels that have implemented waste reduction measures.

She said that food waste is a major concern in Singapore, with 790,000 tonnes generated in 2015. She also said that the amount of food waste produced in Singapore has increased by 45 per cent over the past decade.

“Last year, Singapore generated about 7.7 million tonnes of waste, which is 50 per cent more than what was generated 10 years ago. If this rate of growth for waste disposal continues, our only offshore landfill – Semakau Landfill – will be filled up by 2035. This is not a happy prospect,” she said as she urged hotels to play their part.

According to Dr Khor, 14 hotels were recognised for their efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle waste at the biennial 3R Awards for Hotels, which is led by the NEA and the Singapore Hotels Association.

She also stated that a total of 28 hotel submissions were received in 2016, up from 25 in 2014.

Top awards went to Crowne Plaza Changi Airport, Mandarin Oriental Singapore and Marina Bay Sands. Their efforts including donating excess food and soap, using food waste recycling machines, and retailing eco-friendly products such as swimwear made from recycled plastic bottles.

NEA said that there are four strategies in Food Waste management :

1. Prevent and Reduce food waste at source 

The preferred way to manage food waste is to avoid wasting food at the onset. In November 2015, NEA launched an outreach programme to encourage the adoption of smart food purchase, storage and preparation habits that help consumers save money while reducing food wastage at source.

Everyone is encouraged to play an active role and to motivate friends and family to reduce food wastage at home. For easy-to-do and useful tips on how to reduce food wastage at home and when dining out, members of the public can download an online handy guide which provides suggestions on meal planning, food storage, as well as recipes and innovative ideas on how to use leftover food to create tasty dishes.

In addition, NEA and AVA has worked with various industry stakeholders to develop food waste minimisation guidebook for retail food establishments to reduce food waste across the supply chain.

2. Redistribute unsold or excess food

As part of NEA’s ongoing 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) outreach effort, NEA encourages food manufacturers, retail food establishments and supermarkets to donate their unsold and excess food to food distribution organisations.

To address food safety concerns, guidelines on the proper handling and re-distribution of unsold and excess food have also been incorporated into the food waste minimisation guidebook for retail food establishments.

3. Recycling food waste

Food waste that cannot be avoided should be recycled as far as possible. To support successful food waste recycling, food waste must be separated from contaminants such as disposable cutlery as this may interfere with the recycling process. Segregation of food waste is best done at source (i.e. at the point of generation) as it is less efficient to separate it once it is mixed with general waste.

Currently, food waste that is recycled is mainly homogenous food waste from food manufacturers, such as spent yeast/grains from beer brewing, soya bean and bread waste, which are segregated at source and sold to recyclers for conversion into animal feed.

On-site food waste segregation and treatment

In addition, several premises, including hotels, shopping malls and schools, are segregating their food waste and using on-site food waste treatment systems to convert the food waste into compost for landscaping purposes or water for non-potable use.

NEA had also launched an on-site food waste treatment pilot on 21 January 2016 at Block 628 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 Market and Food Centre and Tiong Bahru Market, to test the economic viability and operational feasibility of on-site food waste treatment systems.

amk-pilot tb-pilot

NEA will be conducting a pilot project to assess the viability of collecting and transporting source-segregated food waste to an off-site treatment facility where the food waste will be co-digested with used water sludge. Source-segregated food waste collected from various premises will be transported to a demonstration facility located at the Ulu Pandan Water Reclamation Plant.

The demonstration facility is designed to treat up to 40 tonnes of combined food waste and used water sludge, and produce more biogas from the anaerobic digestion process compared to the treatment of used water sludge alone, thereby enhancing energy recovery. The demonstration facility is expected to start taking in food waste by end 2016. If successful, the process could potentially be implemented at NEA’s future Integrated Waste Management Facility and PUB’s Tuas Water Reclamation Plant, which will be co-located.

4. Recovery of energy

Food waste that is not recycled will be disposed of at the waste-to-energy (WTE) plants for the recovery of energy.

Incineration plants are also known as waste-to-energy (WTE) plants. The heat from the combustion process is used to generate superheated steam in boilers. The steam is in turn used to drive turbogenerators to produce electricity.

  • Refuse collection vehicles transport incinerable waste to the WTE plants. The vehicles are weighed on a weighbridge before and after they discharge their loads into large refuse bunkers. This weighing process enables the WTE to keep track of the amount of waste disposed of by each vehicle.
  • To prevent odours from escaping into the environment, the air in the refuse bunker is kept below atmospheric pressure.
  • High-capacity rotary crushers are used to break down bulky wastes so that they are suitable for incineration. The waste from the bunker is fed into the incinerator by a grab crane. As the incinerator is operated at temperatures of between 850 and 1,000 degrees Celsius, a lining of refractory material protects the incinerator walls from the extreme heat and corrosion. After incineration, the waste is reduced to ash which is about 10% of its original volume.
  • An efficient flue gas cleaning system comprising electrostatic precipitators, lime powder dosing equipment and catalytic bag filters remove dust and pollutants from the flue gas before it is released into the atmosphere via 150m tall chimneys.
  • Ferrous scrap metal contained in the ash is recovered and sold to a local steel mill for recycling. The ash is sent to the Tuas Marine Transfer Station for disposal at the offshore Semakau Landfill.


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