Stop Food Waste Day was on 28 April. While many might not even know such a day exists, I recently learnt about it while browsing Instagram.
Food waste isn’t just a social or humanitarian concern – it’s an environmental one. When we waste food, we also waste all the energy and water it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and package it. And food waste that ends up in landfills produces methane, a greenhouse gas even more potent than carbon dioxide.
In Singapore, we have a strict no-littering policy and we have campaigns to encourage recycling and conserving resources.
However, food wastage is one of our largest environmental concerns. In 2019, Singapore generated around 744 million kg of food waste. That is equivalent to 2 bowls of rice per person per day, or around 51,000 double decker buses.
According to NEA, the amount of food wasted has increased by 20 percent over the last 10 years. The number will only increase even further as a result of our growing population and increasing economic activity. This will further put pressure on our scarce resources.
So, what then is being done to reduce food waste?
Combating food waste
Upcycling has been a leading trend in recent years. According to the Upcycled Food Association, food upcycling is a way of taking otherwise wasted food, and creating something new and nutritious out of it to prevent food waste.
Upcycled foods are meant for human consumption and are value-added products, which supports the circular economy. It also has proven to be a sustainable solution to reduce food waste and create a positive impact on the environment.
These three organisations have made upcycling part of their business and are setting a leading example on sustainable food practices in Singapore.
treatsure is a social enterprise that redistributes food surplus.
Founder of treatsure Preston had seen his family throw out expiring consumable food and wondered if there was a way to redistribute or sell such food.
He tells the Pride, “I did more research and found that the food wastage problem was as serious in businesses as was in households, thus I committed to creating a solution to tackle the problem.”
Creating an app to sell the food they get from their partners, Preston says: “We work with partners and suppliers to provide upcycled items – both food and non-food – to our app users. These include soaps (upcycled from extra virgin olive oil), sorbets (upcycled from fruits), chips (upcycled from surplus vegetables/mushrooms) and craft beers (upcycled from bread.”
Users can order surplus grocery products from the app directly. There is even a service that allows users to pick up a “buffet-in-a-box” from buffet restaurants.
treatsure recently took their business offline and opened a CBD concept store.
Preston says: “In our concept store, we tried upcycling materials like raw wood for some furnishings of the shop. When we have excess ingredients from our store such as eggs, dairy and fruits, we tried converting them into pastries and desserts.”.
Preston says that upcycling was not an expensive venture. However, he shares that profitability depends on the costs involved to upcycle and convert the raw materials into products, as well as the market demand for those finished products.
“I am hopeful that upcycling food products will gain popularity as there is a market audience for this and it would gain demand if its price is reasonable,” Preston says.
To find out more, visit https://www.treatsure.co/about.html
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As the first urban insect farm in Singapore rearing the black soldier fly (hermetia illucens), Insectta takes pre-consumer food waste and returns it into the economy as valuable biomaterials, such as chitosan. They also sell seeds,fertilisers and black soldier fly larvae.
Insectta gathers food waste by partnering with landfills, beer breweries or grocery stores. Then, they extract high-value biomaterials from the black soldier fly, ready for use in a diverse array of industries.
Founder Kai-Ning says that they decided to focus on pre-consumer food waste because of logistic reasons.
“It is easier to take a few hundred tonnes from a beer brewery than go to every hawker centre and take 10kg of waste. I would have to make a hundred trips!” she says.
Kai-Ning adds that upcycling may be a trend now but soon it will be seen as a necessity.
“In a couple of years, we won’t be upcycling because it’s cool but because we have no other choice. Because we are running out of resources. So definitely we will see an increase in upcycling. Also it makes economic sense”, she says.
To find out more, visit https://www.insectta.com/
3. CRUST Group
Founded in 2019, social enterprise Crust Group sells beers and non-alcoholic beverages made from surplus bread and other ingredients in order to tackle food waste and provide value back to businesses in the food industry.
CEO Travin Singh told The Straits Times: “I was doing research on the origins of beer, I came across quite a number of articles stating that the preservation of bread is one of the oldest forms of making beer. Thereafter, I had the idea of using surplus bread.”
Crust works with restaurants, hotels and food retail outlets such as RedMart, Tiong Bahru Bakery, SaladStop!, Bettr Barista to get the surplus and waste products.
Crust is also coming out with a new line for non-alcoholic beverages like sparkling fruit water, kombucha and probiotic juices.
Their mission is to reduce global food waste by 1% by 2030. To do this, they are raising awareness of sustainability through food upcycling on social media with the hashtag #saveacrust
To date, they saved 600kg of food waste, reduced 13,500kg of cardon dioxide emissions and produced 10,500 litres of beer.
To find out more, visit https://www.crust-group.com/