NEA to rope in schools in fight against food waste

Damai Primary School pupils having their meals at the school canteen.
Damai Primary School pupils having their meals at the school canteen. PHOTO: ST FILE

Schools will soon be joining the National Environment Agency's (NEA) fight to reduce food waste.

The agency issued an invitation yesterday to companies asking for proposals on the leasing, service and maintenance of food-waste recycling machines for 10 schools across the country. The move is part of a two-year project by NEA to raise awareness about proper food-waste management. It also aims to encourage schools to reduce the amount of food waste they generate and dispose of.

A school with a population of about 1,300 students and teachers produces about 30kg to 55kg of food waste a day. The recycling machines will be required to convert the discarded food into compost, which can be used to fertilise soil.

NEA said the 10 shortlisted schools, covering primary and secondary schools and junior colleges, were chosen on the basis of several factors, including their current level of participation in environmental programmes.

As part of the project, the vendor will train the schools' staff, students and canteen stallholders to separate compostable food waste from trash - like tissue paper- that goes into the landfill.

From there, the word is expected to spread - schools often hold talks to encourage students not to waste food, and work with neighbouring schools and community partners.

The Republic is facing a growing food-waste problem. The amount of food waste generated in Singapore has increased by almost 50 per cent in the past 10 years, from 542,700 tonnes in 2006 to 785,500 last year.

And this is expected to increase further with a growing population and economic activity, NEA said.

"When food is wasted, so are all of the resources used to produce and transport it. Food waste also contaminates recyclables and causes odour and pest nuisances if not managed properly," NEA added.

It said the growing amount of food waste puts pressure on Singapore's waste-disposal facilities. Waste Management and Recycling Association of Singapore chairman Melissa Tan said she fully supports the initiative.

She added: "Apart from cutting down on the amount of food wasted, the activities organised will instil in students a better understanding of the issue, which they can then share with their families."

The tender will close at 4pm on Dec 23, and the project is expected to be launched by the second quarter of next year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2016, with the headline 'NEA to rope in schools in fight against food waste'. Print Edition | Subscribe