NUS group lends out lunchboxes in drive to cut waste

Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources declaring the launch of Lite Lunches Programme to reduce food wastage at NUS.
Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources declaring the launch of Lite Lunches Programme to reduce food wastage at NUS. ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI
Dr Amy Khor taking part in the demonstration of the Lite Lunches Programme conducted by NUS Save members.
Dr Amy Khor taking part in the demonstration of the Lite Lunches Programme conducted by NUS Save members. ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI

Instead of using takeaway boxes, visitors to the Arts Canteen at the National University of Singapore (NUS) could borrow reusable lunchboxes for free, with a $2 refundable deposit, in a trial held from last Tuesday to Thursday.

Over the three days, up to 308 lunchboxes were distributed, reducing the use of disposable takeaway boxes by an average of 50 per cent over the three days.

Environmental studies student Lian Kay Yee, 22, said she found the lunchboxes useful. "I take away food all the time, especially since I stay on campus and the dining hall doesn't provide lunch," she said.

The scheme was part of an annual flagship campaign by Students Against Violation of the Earth (Save), an NUS-based non-profit environmental group, to reduce food wastage and plastic. The campaign was officially launched yesterday, with Senior Minister of State (Environment and Water Resources) Amy Khor as the guest of honour.

The NUS group plans to review the results of the pilot before expanding it to other canteens.

Yesterday, it set up a two-day pop-up "cafe" - an activity station where students learn to make meal choices that minimise waste - in University Town, in NUS.

Dr Khor said: "Peer-to-peer influence is the most effective. If the students do it, their peers will see that they believe in it, and they can do it as well."

Meanwhile, a separate trial that allows students to buy smaller food portions is being conducted.

Alexis Ong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2016, with the headline 'NUS group lends out lunchboxes in drive to cut waste'. Print Edition | Subscribe