Singapore households throw out 2.5kg worth of food waste each week: NEA study

Photo: Brian Jeffery Beggerly/Flickr
Photo: Brian Jeffery Beggerly/Flickr

A study released by the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Sunday showed the extent of food waste that households in Singapore generate each week on average. From November 2016 to March 2017, households were found to throw out about 2.5kg of food waste weekly, and this added up to half of all waste disposed.

The five-month study — which involved interviewing 443 families about their waste management habits and collecting waste from 279 households over three days — concluded that more than half of the food waste could be avoided if families were more conscious of portion sizes when buying or cooking food. Unsurprisingly, carbs such as rice, noodles, and bread made up the bulk of the food waste.

Additionally, the amount of food waste from households has risen by about 40 percent over the past decade. Last year alone saw 791,000 tons generated — to give you a better idea of what that means (since public transport is such a hot topic right now), this is equivalent to the weight of more than 3,500 MRT trains.

“At the current rate of waste disposal, we will require a new waste-to-energy plant to be built every seven to 10 years and a new landfill to be built every 35 years. This is not sustainable given Singapore’s land scarcity constraints,” NEA said.

Other findings from the survey included 27 percent of households admitting to having leftovers after each meal at least half the time, as well as a quarter of the participants saying that they often throw out expired food due to excessive purchases.

Half of the families recognized that they could have done something to lessen the amount of food waste from leftovers, while 54 percent suggested smaller portion sizes for packed food in supermarkets and eateries.

In response to this, NEA advised the public to only buy or cook appropriate portion sizes for their families, and offered tips to reduce food waste, such as writing out a shopping list to avoid impulse purchases, requesting for less carbs (subject to appetite), and using leftovers to whip up the next meal.

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