Food waste digesters to be installed in 10 schools by end-May

South View Primary School pupils Ethan Ang, 11, and Siti Syazwana, 11, take food from a simulated buffet at Chongzheng Primary School. Students were guided through a food waste educational trail set up at the school by the NEA.
South View Primary School pupils Ethan Ang, 11, and Siti Syazwana, 11, take food from a simulated buffet at Chongzheng Primary School. Students were guided through a food waste educational trail set up at the school by the NEA. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - By the end of May, 10 primary and secondary schools will be fitted with food waste digesters that will turn discarded food into compost, as the education sector takes on the fight to reduce food waste.

The first school to start off the battle in the two-year Love Your Food @ Schools Project, which was launched on Friday (April 7), is Chongzheng Primary School.

The school generates 17kg of food waste each day, which its new food waste digester will now be able to turn into 2kg of compost within 10 hours. The machine will be placed at the school for two years.

From next week, its students, staff and canteen vendors will have to throw their leftover food into four special bins. The food waste in the bins will be weighed and dumped into the digester at the end of each day.

At the project's launch at Chongzheng Primary School on Friday, about 500 primary and secondary school students from over 30 schools were guided through a food waste educational trail, set up at the school by the National Environment Agency (NEA).

It comprised five stations of interactive displays, which teaches students how they can reduce food waste, for instance, by storing them in the right place and donating excess food to the needy.

The trail included a visit behind the canteen to the school's digester, where the students learnt how food waste can be converted into compost, and were each given a cup of compost with soil to grow his or her own plant.

The nine other schools taking part in the project are Admiralty, Anchor Green, Greendale, Greenwood and Punggol primary schools, Hillgrove and Broadrick secondary schools, Nan Hua High and Dunman High School.

The schools were chosen based on several factors, including their level of participation in environmental programmes.

They are required to hold food wastage reduction activities, such as assembly talks, for their students and staff.

In 2016, Singapore generated 791,000 tonnes of food waste, about a 40 per cent increase from 10 years ago. This amount is expected to rise further with a growing population and economic activity.

A school with a population of about 1,300 students and teachers produces about 30kg to 55kg of food waste a day.

The project's launch was also part of Youth for the Environment Day (YED) 2017, which is a month-long campaign where several activities that promote eco-friendly habits are held.

In one of this year's activities, students will be encouraged to finish their food and take photos of their cleared plates to symbolise their commitment to Zero Waste. The photos can be uploaded via Instagram or submitted to NEA directly, and the group with the most creative photograph will stand to win prizes worth up to $450.

In his YED message, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said: "By taking on simple habits like ordering only what you can finish, asking for smaller portions if you intend to eat less, donating excess food or joining efforts to recycle food waste can make a big difference".

"As young people, you have the greatest stake in safeguarding the environment for your future. Your lifestyle choices will also have a far-reaching impact on natural resources."