More consumers are taking steps to reduce food wastage, according to a survey commissioned by the National Environment Agency (NEA).
The survey, conducted from March to April 2019, interviewed 1,000 randomly selected participants to better understand the perceptions, behaviours and attitudes that consumes in Singapore have towards food waste.
The results show that 8 in 10 respondents are bothered when uneaten food is thrown away. The same number of people are also aware of the environmental impact of food wastage. These numbers also line up with the other findings of the survey which show that:
→ 71% of people try to use leftover ingredients in the fridge, compared to 58% in 2015
→ 64% have no leftovers when eating out, compare to 59% in 2015
→ 56% take away unfinished food when dining out, compared to 44% in 2015
→ 32% are open to buying fruits and vegetables with slight imperfections, compared to 23% in 2015, 38% are open to buying discounted expiring food, up from 18% in 2015, and
→ 43% prepare shopping lists before grocery shopping, compared to 39% in 2015.
So across the board, the NEA found that people are taking more action in reducing food waste. On top of that, about 59% who cater food will order based on the exact or fewer number of expected guests, instead of catering for more. This is compared to 48% in 2015.
On top if that, a “small but growing” proportion of households (3%) in Singapore are also composting their food waste, says NEA.
However, the Agency notes that while these results are “encouraging”, the survey also highlights areas for improvement such as people buying more than they need when grocery shopping.
Still, two factors that highly motivated people to reduce food wastage is if it can help their families save money (93%) and to protect the environment (92%). Many also wanted more information and tips on how to reduce food waste.
Ground-up efforts attributed to improved behaviours
NEA highlights the ground-up efforts that contributed to this positive change leading to a decline in food waste generated in Singapore from 809,800 tonnes in 2017 to 763,100 tonnes in 2018.
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) like Food from the Heart (FFTH) has been redistributing surplus food to the underprivileged in Singapore through close to 200 food distribution points, and organising annual Clean Plate Campaigns for participating schools, while other organisations like Foodscape Collective are encouraging people to better appreciate food and turn food into compost, says NEA.
There’s also the NEA’s Towards Zero Waste Grant launched in early 2019 to help support more ground-up initiatives. The grant has supported about 270 events and projects including 130 activities that helped raise awareness and drive action to reduce food waste, said the Agency. The NEA is also encouraging business and schools to support such ground-up initiatives.
This year, Clean and Green Carnivals were also held around Singapore with waste reduction workshops to help educate the masses.
Reducing waste during the festive season
In its statement, the NEA is also encouraging the public to order, buy and cook just enough food during the festive season. Some tips given include opting for less rice or noodles when preparing food for gatherings, avoid gifting perishable items, and prepare 10-15% less food than required for the number of guests expected for any gatherings.
The tips aren’t just for individuals though. Food business operators are also encouraged to take action in order to reduce food waste. They can download and refer to the NEA’s food waste minimisation guidebooks developed for food retail establishments, food manufacturing establishments and supermarkets. Tips include food and beverage operators offering smaller portion sizes, and for supermarkets to sell expiring food at lower prices, or donate them to the needy.
Moving forward, the NEA said it will be launching the next phase of its food waste reduction campaign in 2020 and continue to organise outreach activities to promote food waste reduction in order to ramp up public action.
NEA said, “As we come together to enjoy the company of our friends and family this festive season, NEA is urging everyone to continue the momentum of the collective effort to say no to food waste. This will help in our fight against climate change by conserving resources, reducing waste sent for incineration and extending the lifespan of our only landfill.”