Clean Plate Campaign to prevent food waste launched at Old Airport Road Food Centre

The Clean Plate Campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the environmental and societal impact of food waste, was first started in 2013. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - A campaign to curb food waste was launched at Old Airport Road Food Centre on Tuesday morning (Oct 16), where volunteers reminded diners to finish the food on their plates.

It is the first time that the Clean Plate Campaign has taken place at a hawker centre.

Singapore generated more than 800,000 tonnes of food waste last year.

"We believe that avoiding unnecessary food wastage starts with our own dining habits," said Ms Sim Bee Hia, chief executive of Food from the Heart.

The charity organisation behind the campaign also helps feed the needy in Singapore.

"We hope that the patrons of this food centre will keep in mind ordering just enough food and cutting down on food waste," she added.

Old Airport Road Food Centre has 168 hawker stalls.

The Clean Plate Campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the environmental and societal impact of food waste, was first started in 2013.

Apart from raising awareness of food wastage in schools, volunteers also count pupils' empty plates.

At the end of the campaign, the schools with the largest number of empty plates wins trophies.

Then, only five primary schools took part. This number increased to 65 this year.

As part of this year's edition, Food from the Heart also partnered with Marina Bay Sands, which has about 9,700 staff.

The organisation held its own two-day Clean Plate Campaign last week in its two team member dining rooms where staff have their meals.

It counted nearly 5,000 clean plates over two days.

The hawker centre campaign was launched by Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chuan, who recounted how his mother always told him to clean his plate.

"When I was a young boy, my mother always said: 'Take what you can eat, and don't waste food'," said Mr Lim, who is also Deputy Speaker of Parliament.

"Today, we are a lot more affluent and quite honestly, many of us consume more than we need to."

Mr Clarence Chai, 39, a banking executive who ate at the food centre on Tuesday, agreed.

"We should have the discipline to finish what we order," he said.

Mr Lim also spoke briefly on the issue of hawkers being charged for each tray that patrons return.

At Jurong West Hawker Centre, customers do not pay to take a tray but receive 20 cents when they return their tray.

"I personally would not be keen to adopt the price mechanism to encourage people to return trays," Mr Lim said, adding that he understands the concerns on both sides.

"Let's give this some time and take feedback," he said.

"If you don't try new things, you will never know if things can improve or not."

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