Work with grassroots groups to reduce food wastage

Food waste in a dustbin.
Food waste in a dustbin. PHOTO: ST FILE

I support the National Environment Agency's (NEA) launch of an e-book, in collaboration with the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), to help retail food establishments minimise waste ("Food waste: E-book's food for thought"; Tuesday).

By providing the owners of such establishments with the knowledge to sustainably address their food waste, we are one step closer towards reducing food wastage in Singapore.

While I applaud the larger hotels here for leading the charge in the movement, we must be mindful that the retail food industry in Singapore also includes numerous small and medium-sized enterprises which do not possess the vast resources that the hotels have in tackling the problem.

It would thus be wise for NEA and AVA to work with grassroots organisations, such as the shopkeepers' association of every constituency, to help spread the message of curbing food waste, as well as the incentives provided to help tackle this problem.

As a key touchpoint in any community, grassroots organisations serve to reduce misconceptions and help people to seek government grants available for their businesses.

The vast network of grassroots organisations also provides a wide base of contacts to match food establishments seeking to do good with organisations within the constituency that have a need for food supplies.

By playing the role of a resource allocator, not only is the relevance of grassroots organisations emphasised, community bonds are also strengthened, and less food is wasted as a result.

Indeed, there are resources, such as the 3R Fund administered by NEA, available for retail food establishments that wish to take on the challenge of reducing food wastage. But there has to be extensive education in order for Singapore to fully reap the benefits of such resources.

Bringing on grassroots organisations as a partner will give an effective boost to the current efforts by the Government in the campaign to reduce food wastage.

Tim Yi Hao

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2016, with the headline 'Work with grassroots groups to reduce food wastage'. Print Edition | Subscribe