Programme that weighs students' food wastage wins top prize at sustainability challenge

(From left ) University students Aditya Chand, Aamod Mehrish, Ojus Sharma, and Raghav Bhardwaj.
(From left ) University students Aditya Chand, Aamod Mehrish, Ojus Sharma, and Raghav Bhardwaj.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Frequent reminders from their parents not to waste food drove home the message for four undergraduates, and inspired their latest project.

The contraption - the brainchild of university students Aditya Chand, 21, Aamod Mehrish, 20, Ojus Sharma, 22, and Raghav Bhardwaj, 22 - weighs individual plates of food before and after a meal, and awards points to the users who have wasted the least.

Their proposal clinched them the top prize in the inaugural Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) Sustainathon Singapore on Thursday (Oct 15).

Mr Bhardwaj, a computer engineering undergraduate at the National University of Singapore, said: "Because most people don't really feel food insecurity here in Singapore, (they) don't have such an emotional attachment to it. Maybe since we all have been brought up by parents who come from India, so we were really taught to value our food."

Their concept encompasses an online platform, with a points system and leaderboard. Users can access the site and their profile pages by scanning a QR code.

Schools which implement the system can then award prizes to the top performers.

The Sustainathon competition saw more than 180 participants put together 40 proposals for the challenge's partners - People's Association Youth Movement, Sodexo and Singapore Airlines - to develop technology-based solutions to address food waste across the public and private sectors.

The runners-up team comprised university students Chiang Wen Hsin, 23, and Karyn Tshua, Ellie Choun and Tiffani Chew, all 22. They developed an app that allows users to personalise their portions in their food orders. The data collected provides consumption trends and goes into a game feature.

The award ceremony was attended by President Halimah Yacob, who addressed the increase in food wastage by about 20 per cent over the past 10 years. Last year, Singapore generated around 744,000 tonnes of food waste, equivalent to two bowls of rice per person a day.

"Today's event is an opportune platform to raise awareness of societal concerns amongst the future leaders of Singapore, and to encourage the co-creation of solutions through the use of technology," added Madam Halimah.