Sunday, October 25, 2015

food waste management

Hello! Today I'll be looking at Hong Kong as a case study, and how they manage their food waste! As with other cities, food waste is a major constituent to organic waste. In Hong Kong, 3584 tonnes of food waste generated each day, with 70% from households and 30% from commercial and industrial sectors. 

Currently, Hong Kong depends mainly on landfills to dispose food waste. Yet, this can lead to other environmental problems such as greenhouse gas emissions, odour and leachate problems. Currently, there are three sanitary landfill sites with a total capacity of 13,900 tons per day

In 2008, the government opened a pilot composting plant, which has in-vessel composting technology using the principle of a bioreactor. This technology has proved to be feasible for further up-scaling, to minimise problems such as odour. In addition, a modern organic waste treatment facility will also be set up, where it adopts anaerobic digestion and composting technologies to turn food waste into energy and compost products. 

Scenario A: System with all food waste landfilled
Scenario B: Management system using compost technology
Scenario C: Using combined anaerobic digestion and composting technology

In conclusion, after analyzing the environmental impact of the three different strategies, here are the results:

For scenario A, the food waste have to be collected, transported and then landfilled. This not only increases gas emissions, but it also required a lot of energy especially for the generators in the landfill. The leachate would also have to be collected and treated in a plant. Emissions from landfill contributed the most of global warming. Power and fuel consumption during landfill operation contributed significantly to acidification, nutrient enrichment and toxicity. 

For B, composting actually causes more serious acidification and nutrient enrichment than landfilling. This is due to the release of ammonia and sulfur dioxide gas during decomposition. However, using compost on farm lands can slightly reduce global warming, acidification and toxicity by fertilization substitution. 

For C, the energy obtained can result in more environmental benefits as compared to composting and landfill technologies due to lower gas emissions. Energy recovery counteracts the impacts of emissions, and contributes to the avoidance of human toxicity via water, acidification, global warming and nutrient enrichment. 

Thus, the suggested waste management for Hong Kong is the combined digestion and composting technology, which should be expanded to reduce reliance on landfills! 

ZHAO Y., DENG W.J. (2014) Environmental impacts of different food waste resource technologies and the effects of energy mix. [Online] 92 (11). Available from: [Accessed: 26/10/2015]

Friday, October 23, 2015

trolley food waste

Hey there!

So far, I've been talking mainly about how food waste comes from households, firms, supermarkets etc (well, you get the general idea). But did you know that trolley food in hospitals are also included in food wastes? I came across this article and I thought it was quite insightful!!

In a study, it has indicated that "trolley food waste generation is a practice embedded within the limitations related to the procedures of meal ordering."

Trolley meal service is  a service whereby patients choose their meals directly from the food trolley and are served by healthcare personnel. Although this practice might improve patients' food intakes due to the customized approach, this practice can unintentionally lead to food waste problems. The unserved food remaining on the trolley wastes between 17-50% of bulk food from the kitchen, constituting as much as 30% of total food waste.

Problems include

  • meal ordering - have to order in advance, but difficult to estimate the exact number of patients in the ward
  • communication - problem of patients' schedules
  • portion sizes - lack of flexibility 
  • monitoring - no satellite kitchen, lack of monitoring on trolley food waste
Solutions? I feel that the hospital menu could be improved by providing the actual portion size, nutritional information etc for the patients so that they are able to make more informed decisions whenever they pick their meals. This allows patients to request a smaller/larger portion, or whether to omit certain ingredients in their meals - basically to allow more flexibility in the dishes. However, this solution might not be easy as the portion sizes depends of the intuitive skills of the serving staff, and the portion sizes might not be consistent for each patient.

Additionally, it is important for the staff to know the implications of food waste. Better equipment and tools such as computerized weighing scales with scanners and digital cameras can be used to track food waste data. For the unserved food, maybe it could be served to staff or for the patients' visitors, this can help to reduce food waste :)

K.T. OFEI, et al. (2014) How practice contributes to trolley food waste. A qualitative study among staff involved in serving meals to hospital patients. [Online] 83 (12). Available from: [Accessed: 24/10/2015]

Thursday, October 22, 2015

feed your garden

Hi guys! I'm back with another tip to reduce our food waste :) 

So, imagine if you could have an unlimited supply of food right in your own home!! Amazing, right?? In a way you not only benefit yourself by saving money but it helps to save the environment by reducing food waste (one mini step at a time) hahaha, so yeah here's some vegetables that you could attempt to grow by using unwanted food scraps :)


Sounds good, huh? I think I might gonna tr planting these soon, once I get my hands on some soil. Wait, but actually, some of the vegetables do not need soil to regrow! 

This includes: Bok choi, lettuce, carrot greens, celery, garlic, fennel chives, green onions, leeks and lemongrass :) the steps to regrow these vegetables are fairly simple, just google them! 

If any of you are gonna try it, remember to take the before and after pictures! So that you can compare them and feel a sense of achievement when the plant grows heh heh

Ok, till then! Bye!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

expiry dates

Hi!! This time, I'm back with a post on food expiration dates :)

Expiration dates are not actually expiration dates! According to a study by Harvard Law School, U.S consumers and businesses throw out billions of pounds of food annually due to the confusion caused by the expiration date labelling practices. Additionally, more than 90% of consumers discard food prematurely (even though they are still perfectly edible and safe for consumption) due to them misinterpreting the expiration date labels as food safety indicators. It induces paranoia among consumers, that once the food goes past the expiration date, it's not safe for consumption and should be thrown out. Expiration dates are variable and set by the producers.

Types of food labels;

• Pack date: The day the product was manufactured. 
• Sell-by date: A note to retailers about when to pull a product from the shelves. It is also an indicator of the date by which the grocer should sell the items while still in its peak freshness. It’s still safe to use after this date, but grocers generally remove it because consumers won’t trust it.
• Best-if-used-by date/use-by date: This is a note to consumers and is typically later than the sell-by date would be. It indicates when quality and taste start to decline, although the product is still edible after this date.  
As long as the food is stored properly in the fridge, the food can actually still last (longer than you think) after it's 'expiration date'. In a news report with Emily Broad Leib, the Director of Harvard Law School's Food Law and Policy Clinic, and co-author of the new study, she mentioned that: "The big take-away from our study is really, these dates are not regulated and most people think that they have meaning, but in fact, at the federal level, the only food that has rules about date-labels is infant formula. Everything else is made up by states and by companies, there's… really no legal definition around them."

The important thing is to make sure that the leftover food is stored properly! Trust your judgement, use your sense of sight and smell! Use the expiration dates as a guide, and this can prevent unnecessary food waste :) 

Before I end off, here's a useful link -
The ultimate shelf life guide!!! It gives you the shelf life for common groceries + tips on how to store it properly.

Till then!

HARVARD FOOD LAW AND POLICY CLINIC. (2013) The dating game: how confusing food date labels lead to food waste in America. [Online] September 2013 Available from:  [Accessed: 18/10/2015]

LAURA SCHWECHERL. (2015) What expiration dates really mean. [Online] 16 April 2015 Available from: [Accessed: 18/10/2015]

Sunday, October 11, 2015

ntuc fairprice to tackle food waste problems

Hi! Remember the last post, where I mentioned that the survey respondents were curious about NTUC Fairprice's food reduction measures? Well, Zero Waste Singapore sent the survey report to the top 10 F&B companies and urged them to take action, and would follow up with them to understand and get to know more about their food reduction strategies. Companies that take action would be highlighted by Zero Waste SG, because afterall, these efforts deserve recognition by the public.

So, let's take a look at what NTUC FairPrice has done! Firsly, they have introduced a Food Waste Index to track their annual food waste, and sustain their food waste reduction efforts. This is a first in Singapore's supermarket industry.

Secondly, the CEO announced the pilot "Great Taste Less Waste Selection" initiative at 7 FairPrice Xtra outlets. This is similar to the initiative adopted by the french supermarket, Intermarché. Fruits and vegetables that are unsold due to their blemishes but are still edible would be trimmed/cut into smaller pieces before they are repackaged and sold at a lower price. "Ugly" food are thus given a second life. Not only this, FairPrice will be educating their customers on the awareness of food waste, to handle food with care and to convince consumers that "ugly" food is still edible and safe for consumption.

Lastly, FairPrice also has a long-term partnership with a local charity, Food From the Heart (FFTH). FairPrice outlets will donate their unsold canned food products on a regular basis. Currently, only 55 outlets are involved, but FairPrice has targeted for all 126 stores to eventually participate in this programme as well. 

So, in summary, here is what FairPrice is doing:

 It is heartening to see that actions are taken to reduce food wastage, especially by one of the leading retail supermarkets in Singapore. It is therefore important for other F&B companies to also follow suit, so that greater results can be achieved. Not sure if the FairPrice outlet at my house has the 'Great Taste Less Waste' campaign though.. I've never seen the 'repackaged' groceries before :( Would love to try it though!! 

Ending this post here now, bye!! Hope you enjoyed reading this :)

ZERO WASTE SINGAPORE. (2015) NTUC FairPrice takes the lead to measure and reduce food waste. [Online] 28 May 2015. Available from: [Accessed: 12/10/2015]

Friday, October 9, 2015

food waste from f&b companies

Food waste contributes to approximately 10% of the total waste generated, yet less than 15% of it is recycled. The amount of food waste produced in Singapore has unfortunately been increasing over the past 10 years, which could be due to the growing population and affluence.

However, Singapore has started to take actions by setting goals. Under the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint, Singapore aims to achieve an overall recycling rate of 70% by 2030. Recycling and reducing food waste is also part of the plans for Singapore to become a Zero Waste Nation. Naturally, the preferred solution to manage food waste is to reduce as much of it as possible.

In a survey conducted by students under the Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Programme, the results have indicated that Singaporeans (the consumers) has concerns about food waste generated from F&B companies. Here are some of the key findings:

  • Singaporeans do not agree with all sources of food waste, especially from bakeries
  • Age is positively correlated with food waste concerns, and females are more concerned than males (I'm thinking that this could be because usually the housewives are the ones buying groceries?)
  • Participants are curious to know about food reduction strategies adopted by F&B companies, especially for retail supermarkets, expressed their interests in wanting F&B companies to donate their excess, unused food products to charities  
  • Participants are willing to continue patronizing and buy their products (as compared to no difference in support), spread the word about their efforts if companies do adopt food waste reduction measures

In a nutshell, it can be seen that consumers are concerned about food waste and that F&B companies should take actions to reduce food waste. This could be done through donate unsold food, sell it at a discounted price, reduce food waste through other means (such as during storage, transportation or cooking), or even to sell food in smaller portions. The consumers' attitudes are definitely a positive sign, which could help Singapore to progress towards a Zero Waste Nation :)

In the survey, respondents also listed the companies that they would most like to know about, in term of their food waste reduction strategies. And.. the top of the list was NTUC Fairprice, with Breadtalk following behind.

That's all for this post! Stay tuned for the next post where I will talk about how NTUC Fairprice has started to take action to reduce their food waste!

CHUA THIAN POH COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP PROGRAMME, NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE. (2015) Report - Survey to understand consumer attitudes toward food waste by F&B companies in Singapore. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: 9/10/2015]

NATIONAL ENVIRONMENT AGENCY. (2015) Factsheet on food waste management. [Online] 11 March 2015. Available from: [Accessed: 9/10/2015]

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

gas emissions

Did you know that every time you sink your teeth into that juicy beef burger, you are actually contributing to the global carbon gas emission? Have you ever thought that what you eat (and worse, if you waste it) could potentially harm the environment?

In an inspiring documentary, Cowspiracy, it features the agricultural industry and how it is actually the leading cause for various environmental problems such as global warming, water depletion, deforestation, species extinction, ocean "dead zones" and many others. Animal agriculture/ animal farming is actually livestock production, that refers to the keeping of livestock such as cattle, poultry and fish at high stocking densities than usual, compared to other forms of animal.

Livestock and their by-products account for at least 32000 million tons of CO2 annually, which is 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions! Not just carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxides are also released during agriculture. Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane daily. Methane is 25-100x more destructive than CO2, and has a global warming potential 86x more.

The statistics shown are pretty interesting huh. Maybe we should all pledge to shy away from meat more often or something? It might be difficult for some but we can all try!

Here's an interesting website which lists the carbon equivalents of common food that we usually eat , such as eggs, breakfast and milk, stir-frys etc - The "carbon dioxide equivalent" scores describes the amount of GHGs emitted throughout its entire production, such as the materials used in producing it, or the energy required to transport or process it.

Some tips before I end this post, 

  1. You bought it - you eat it. Don't waste food
  2. Make "seasonal and regional" your food mantra
  3. Moooove away from beef and cheese
  4. If it's processed and packaged, skip it

and finally, Take the low carbon quiz! Share with me your score if you've done it! :p
That's all for today, bye!

COWSPIRACY (n.d). The facts. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 7/10/2015]

EAT LOW CARBON (n.d). [Online] Available from: [Accessed: 7/10/2015]

RICHARDS J (n.d). Food's carbon footprint. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: 7/10/2015]