By Wilson Voon, Director, C&W Services Singapore 

Food waste accounts for about 10 per cent of the total waste generated in Singapore, but only 16 per cent of the food waste is recycled, according to the National Environment Agency. This underscores the tremendous untapped potential in minimising food waste and recycling whatever is disposed. At a Pandan Loop facility that C&W Services Singapore manages, the team piloted the use of a food digester on site to recycle food waste. Up to 100kg of food waste can be processed in a day and converted into 5kg of fertiliser. The ability to break food waste down onsite, immediately after it is disposed, keeps the air within the compounds odour-free and fresh. This also reduces the risk of pests infesting untreated food waste, putting occupiers’ health at risk.

This is particularly useful to food manufacturing facilities which generate a large amount of waste on site.

The food digester helps firms in their sustainability drive as food waste is recycled into a biodegradable plant fertilizer that can be used to spruce up the landscaping on the grounds within 24 hours of their disposal. Recycling food waste into organic compost is a safer option compared to the traditional method of converting food waste to water as there are issues around water hygiene levels. The facility recorded a 95 per cent reduction in waste. Operational costs reduced by an estimated three to five per cent in cleaning fees, waste management and landscaping.

Reducing food waste could be a significant factor in addressing climate change in a couple of ways. One is a reduction in methane emitted from landfills. Another is a reduction in the climate cost of the food production process, with less land, water and fuel needed to grow the same amount of food and move it to market. Reducing food waste can also make a significant contribution to tackling climate change as 7 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), 3.3 billion tonnes CO2 equivalent per year, are due to food waste.

Companies who are committed to reduce waste will be encouraged by the The National Environmental Agency’s co-funding of up to 80 per cent of qualifying costs, up to $1 million for each project. The potential economic and environmental benefits are huge and worthwhile in the long run. The C&W Services team is taking the sustainability drive to the next level. It is now working on powering the food digester using solar energy, instead of relying on grid power. Using solar energy will not only  reduce carbon foodprint; it yields energy savings reducing operational costs further.

Wilson Voon is a Director at C&W Services Singapore.