Singapore among 20 cities targeted to reduce and repurpose food waste

Cities are expected to be responsible for about 80 per cent of global food consumption by 2050. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Limiting food wastage in cities can reduce the risks of current food supply chain shocks and spiralling prices that have left about 828 million people worldwide going hungry this year, a report calling for urgent action has found.

Cities are expected to be responsible for about 80 per cent of global food consumption by 2050, even as they account for more than 2.8 billion tonnes of organic waste each year, said the white paper by the Resilient Cities Network and consultancy Arup released on Monday (Aug 1).

But less than 2 per cent of this waste is captured and circulated back into the ecosystem. This comes as dealing with food waste alone accounts for 10 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions, the report said.

To enhance urban food security, the Resilient Cities Network has earmarked Singapore as part of 20 cities targeted in its movement to reduce and repurpose food waste in their systems by 2025.

As a city that is vulnerable to supply shocks because it imports so much of its food, Singapore is well positioned to scale up the resilience of its food system, said Ms Lauren Sorkin, executive director of the Resilient Cities Network.

She said: "Food insecurity has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and existing climate threats, coupled with the war in Ukraine. It is important for best practices to be implemented in cities to build resilience."

Launched on the second day of the World Cities Summit 2022 in Singapore, the campaign titled Urban Eats aims to eventually encourage all 97 members of the Resilient Cities Network, which Singapore is part of, to shore up their food systems by ensuring that nothing goes to waste.

Improving systems of waste management and leveraging technology to distribute urban food surpluses are among recommendations by the report to help improve food security amid an increasingly uncertain world.

In the city of Pune in India, for example, waste segregation by a Pro-Poor Public Private Partnership owned by self-employed waste workers allows the city's food waste to be treated and recycled into fuel.

Said Ms Sorkin: "By advancing circular practices that both reduce waste and create value from waste, we can unlock multiple resilience benefits, such as reducing the carbon footprint of food, improving food distribution, breaking the dependence on non-renewable inputs in food production, generating jobs and boosting food supply efficiency."

The global push comes as the Singapore Government and more food companies are beefing up upcycling efforts here.

From 2025, for instance, the Republic plans to progressively complete the world's first integrated waste and water treatment facility.

Located in Tuas, the plant will convert source segregated food waste into food waste slurry that is suitable for co-digestion with used water sludge, which will increase biogas production that can boost electricity generation.

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