Speech by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, at foodpanda’s Green Label initiative launch on 26 July 2022
Ladies and gentlemen,
1 Good morning. I am happy to join you today for the launch of foodpanda’s Green Label Initiative – a first-of-its-kind scheme by a food delivery platform in Singapore.
Climate Change and Depleting Resources
2 Climate change, recent pandemics, and geopolitical events have adversely affected the environment, economy and everyone of us. They have disrupted food production, depleted resources, and accelerated our waste production. For example, droughts and floods brought about by climate change have impacted crop yields and food supplies. This has led to many countries imposing food export bans, such as Malaysia on its chickens, Indonesia on palm oil and India on its wheat and sugar. At the same time, we have seen an increased amount of food and packaging waste that come with the lifestyle changes arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
3 The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations estimates that 1.3 billion tonnes of food waste is generated every year globally. Locally, food waste is also one of our largest waste streams, with about 817,000 tonnes generated in 2021. This is equivalent to the weight of about 56,000 double decker buses, with only about 19 per cent being recycled. These numbers will go higher if we do not make efforts to produce and consume food sustainably and reduce waste.
Singapore Green Plan 2030
4 Last year, we launched the Singapore Green Plan 2030 to galvanise a whole-of-nation movement to tackle climate change. The Green Plan sets out concrete and ambitious targets that position us to achieve net-zero emissions by or around mid-century. Under Sustainable Living and Resilient Future – two key pillars of the Green Plan – we aim to reduce our waste to landfill per capita per day by 30 per cent, and build the capability and capacity to produce 30 per cent of our nutritional needs locally and sustainably, by 2030.
5 At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when many of us were working from home, there was greater demand for takeaway food orders and more shopping at supermarkets as restrictions were imposed on dining-in. This has significantly increased the use of disposables and generated more packaging waste. In 2020, the National Environment Agency (NEA) convened a Citizens’ Workgroup to address the excessive consumption of disposables in Singapore. The Workgroup submitted wide ranging recommendations, such as enhancing sustainability education and learning, driving behavioural change through nudges, and charging for disposable carrier bags. Following these recommendations, we consulted the public and supermarkets to develop an appropriate charging model for disposable carrier bags. We considered the views and feedback carefully. Earlier this year, we announced that it will be mandatory for large supermarkets to charge a minimum of 5 cents for each single use disposable bag given to customers in mid-2023. We are also working on a beverage container return scheme, where producers, such as beverage companies, will be responsible for the collection and proper treatment of used beverage containers. Under this scheme, a refundable deposit is included in the price of pre-packaged beverages to encourage consumers to return their empty beverage containers at designated return points.
6 Cultivating sustainable habits such as switching to reusable options and reducing the use of disposables will help to lower our environmental footprint. I am happy to see that foodpanda is encouraging its F&B partners to operate more sustainably, and is helping its customers to identify businesses that use locally-sourced ingredients and sustainable packaging as well as those that take concrete steps to reduce food waste. Through its Green Label initiative developed with guidance from PACT SG, started by WWF-SG and audited by Zero Waste SG, foodpanda encourages and educates restaurants to actively reduce their carbon footprint, and nudges customers to make more environmentally-conscious choices.
Food Waste and Food Security
7 In 2019, NEA announced that large commercial and industrial food waste generators will be required to segregate their food waste for treatment from 2024 onwards. These large food waste generators will also be required to measure and report the amount of food waste segregated for treatment. Last year, NEA launched the Food Resource Valorisation Award to recognise companies that engage in food resource valorisation that converts food waste into value-added products. I am glad that foodpanda is similarly encouraging its partners to look at reducing food waste through the Green Label criteria. Based on their scores, foodpanda will provide each eligible restaurant with up to $80,000 worth of marketing support to improve their sales and visibility.
8 As a country that imports more than 90 per cent of our food, Singapore adopts a multi-pronged strategy to ensure the security of our food supply. Apart from diversifying our import sources, we also seek to increase local food production. With less than one per cent of our land available for food production, we must do so in a highly productive, climate-resilient, and resource-efficient way, and be commercially sustainable. We must harness innovation and technology to grow more with less resources.
9 For example, GOOD Meat is producing alternative proteins that require less land and labour as compared to conventional livestock farming. With technological advancements and growing consumer demand for sustainable foods, alternative proteins have the potential to supplement Singapore’s agricultural productivity and contribute meaningfully to our ‘30 by 30’ goal.
10 While we strive to produce more food locally, it is important that local restaurants and consumers support local produce. This will keep our farms commercially viable, and encourage our farmers to continue producing quality local produce in a sustainable manner. I am glad to see that foodpanda’s Green Label initiative supports this mission by promoting restaurants that use locally-sourced ingredients.
11 In closing, I would like to thank foodpanda for introducing the Green Label initiative to identify sustainable brands and restaurant partners for the public’s support.
12 As businesses and consumers, we have an important role to play in Singapore’s sustainability journey. Through our collective efforts, we can effect positive behavioural changes to reduce disposables, food waste and increase support for local produce, and achieve our goals under the Green Plan.
13 Thank you.