Opening Speech by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, at the Project Green Table on 28 June 2022
Ladies and Gentlemen
A very good evening to all of you. I thank Just Dabao for inviting me to join founders of green start-ups and sustainability advocates at this event.
REDUCING FOOD WASTE - A PRIORITY FOR SINGAPORE
2 Singapore launched the Zero Waste Masterplan in 2019 to transit towards a circular economy, and encourage more sustainable production and consumption. This is crucial in extending the life span of Semakau Landfill, our only landfill, beyond 2035. Reducing food waste contributes towards our Zero Waste goal and extends the life span of Semakau Landfill. In addition, reducing food waste helps to conserve our resources and reduce carbon emissions.
3 Food waste is one of the waste streams we are prioritising. It is generated in large quantities but has low recycling rates. Last year, 817,000 tonnes of food waste was generated, making it our fifth largest waste stream. On a positive note, our food waste recycling rate increased from 17 per cent in 2018 to 19 per cent in 2020 and 2021. As a nation with a great love for food, there is definitely room for all of us to do more.
4 Just Dabao’s effort to reduce food waste by helping eateries to sell their surplus food is commendable. I understand Just Dabao has partnered more than 400 food businesses and over 20,000 eco-conscious individuals to do this. Collectively, this saved about 5,000 kilograms of food from the bin between October 2020 to February 2022! That is about 7,500 meals and the equivalent of 12,500 kilograms of carbon emissions. On Just Dabao’s mobile application, I understand it will notify users when surplus food is available within their radius. It will also include social rankings of users on the food waste and carbon emissions they have saved. I look forward to seeing higher usage of the mobile application as well as an even greater reduction in food waste.
COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH TO TACKLING FOOD WASTE
5 To achieve Singapore’s vision of becoming a Zero Waste Nation, we need to take a comprehensive approach to address our waste streams, from upstream efforts to encourage reduction, to downstream measures to promote recycling.
6 The best way to reduce food waste is to avoid wasting food right at the onset. Through our public outreach campaigns, my Ministry and the National Environment Agency encourage consumers to reduce food waste by sharing simple actions that we can incorporate into our daily lives. These include:
• Making a shopping list and keeping to it;
• Ordering amounts that we intend to and are able to finish; and
• Keeping near-expiry food items within easy view and making an effort to consume them first.
7 We also work with commercial establishments to reduce food waste by providing food waste minimisation guidebooks.
8 Food waste that cannot be avoided should be recycled wherever possible. From 2024, the Resource Sustainability Act will require all commercial and industrial establishments that generate large amounts of food waste to segregate it for treatment. New establishments are also required to set aside space in their premises for onsite food waste treatment facilities.
9 The public sector will do its part as well to tackle food waste. Public sector buildings that have F&B establishments must segregate their food waste for treatment from 2024. At the Environment Building, we have been doing so since December 2017.
APPRECIATING AND ENCOURAGING COMMUNITY/GROUND-UP INITIATIVES
10 The Government cannot tackle food waste and other sustainability issues on our own. Our efforts alone will not bear fruit without the support of the community. It is inspiring to see individuals like yourselves stepping forward to champion sustainability initiatives — like how Jennifer founded Just Dabao to redistribute unsold surplus food by connecting consumers and F&B establishments.
11 Let me conclude. Our sustainability journey requires community involvement and action. We need all stakeholders on board to co-create and co-deliver solutions that make Singapore a green and liveable home. I thank everyone here for your efforts to reduce food waste and encourage you to ignite the same passion amongst your networks to join our green cause.