NEA to launch campaign to reduce food waste next week

Unfinished food left on a table at a hawker centre.
Unfinished food left on a table at a hawker centre. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The National Environment Agency (NEA) is launching a new campaign to tackle food wastage here, on the back of a survey that found that consumers here, while concerned about wasting food, had poor habits which could exacerbate the problem.

From Monday, Nov 23, posters and educational videos on food wastage will be featured on digital and mobile media platforms; at bus-stop shelters; in newspapers and on TV.

These will draw comparisons between the cost of food wastage and what the money could be otherwise spent on.

This was revealed in a joint media release on Friday, by the NEA and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA).

The survey, which covered 1,016 people, found that many tended to shop on impulse, buying food items on promotion, for instance, instead of being guided by checklists and meal plans.

The survey findings also suggested that people were more likely to waste food when eating at home compared to dining out, as they tend to buy more than what they eventually consume.

"Among the survey respondents who indicated that they usually buy more than enough food when grocery shopping, the most common reason given for doing so was to ensure that household members had more than enough to eat," the agencies said.

Eight in 10 respondents said they would reduce food waste to save money, and six in 10 said they would waste less food if they had better information on how to plan meals and store food adequately.

Hence the food waste reduction campaign will also include customised educational materials containing information on how to reduce food wastage within the home .

An online guide to reducing food wastage will also be made available at www.cgs.sg/FWRToolkit, which will provide suggestions on meal planning, food storage, as well as recipes and innovative ideas on how to use leftover food to create tasty dishes .

The NEA will also partner food retail businesses such as supermarkets Cold Storage, Giant, Prime, Sheng Siong and NTUC FairPrice, and food outlet Subway to place posters and table-top stickers at their premises to remind and encourage consumers not to waste food.

Community Development Councils (CDCs), grassroots leaders, partners and stakeholders will also step in organise initiatives related to reducing food wastage, such as in the form of an educational skit.

The campaign will be expanded to schools in early 2016.

Food accounts for one-tenth of all waste produced here. About 788,600 tonnes of food were thrown away in 2014, slightly less than the 796,000 tonnes in 2013, but still much more than the 606,100 tonnes in 2009. Only 13 per cent of last year's food waste was recycled.

Mr Ronnie Tay, Chief Executive Officer of NEA, said: "While we work to reduce food waste disposed of through means such as food waste recycling and redistribution of unsold and excess food, the preferred approach remains that of preventing food wastage in the first place.

"We encourage everybody to buy only what he needs, or order only what he can finish, and help save the environment and resources by reducing food wastage."

For more tips to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, the public can visit www.nea.gov.sg/3r, or download the myENV mobile app.