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Survey to examine Singaporean habits to cut growing food wastage

SINGAPORE — A survey to look at how Singaporeans shop for, eat, cook and dispose of their food will be conducted by the National Environment Agency (NEA), as part of efforts to cut the growing amount of food waste here.

Survey to examine Singaporean habits to cut growing food wastage

Last year, Singapore dumped 796,000 tonnes of food waste, a 13.2 per cent increase from the amount in 2012. Today file photo

SINGAPORE — A survey to look at how Singaporeans shop for, eat, cook and dispose of their food will be conducted by the National Environment Agency (NEA), as part of efforts to cut the growing amount of food waste here.

Commissioned by a working group formed to look into reducing food wastage, the survey will try to capture both qualitative and quantitative data on consumer behaviour — shopping, cooking, eating and catering habits — that may lead to wastage, the types of food being wasted and why they are being thrown out, among other things.

Targeting about 1,000 respondents, the survey — expected to be completed next month — will also try to identify consumers’ knowledge and attitudes towards food wastage, the NEA said in the tender documents put up on Aug 20. “It will help the (working group) to scope its outreach programme and refine target audiences,” said the NEA and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) in a joint response to queries.

Last year, Singapore dumped 796,000 tonnes of food waste, a 13.2 per cent increase from the 703,200 tonnes in 2012. Food wastage also took up 10 per cent of the total wastage by Singapore last year.

While food recycling rates in Singapore rose for the second consecutive year in 2013, last year’s rate was still below the 16 per cent of food waste recycled in 2010.

In the tender documents, the NEA said the manufacturing, retail and consumer segments generate the largest amounts of food waste. “At the retail and consumer segments, the working group recognises that operational characteristics of retail and consumers could be influenced by consumer behaviour,” it said.

Formed in 2012 by the Inter-Ministry Committee on Food Security, the Food Wastage Reduction Working Group is jointly chaired by the NEA and AVA and includes representatives from agencies such as the Economic Development Board and the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources.

“To address the rise in the amount of food waste, the (working group) has engaged stakeholders such as food manufacturers, hawkers, hotel operators, retailers and non-governmental organisations to better understand the factors contributing to food wastage,” said the NEA.

The contractor commissioned to conduct the survey will have to propose recommendations on food wastage based on the findings and, where possible, propose initiatives and mitigating measures to reduce wastage.

Speaking to TODAY, Ms Lynda Hong, the Singapore Environment Council communications manager, said this survey would allow for a better understanding of where Singapore stands in terms of food wastage and recycling. She added it was also crucial to understand the extent of food wastage along the supply chain — such as in production and the retail sector.

Mr Eugene Tay, director of Green Future Solutions, hopes that besides this survey, more data will also be collected to identify the amount of food waste generated by different sectors. Currently, statistics here only reflect the annual amount of food waste.

Without the breakdown, Mr Tay noted that campaigns or outreach programmes will not be as targeted and it will be tougher to track their effectiveness. Siau Ming En

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