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Local firm's sustainable food packaging solution wins OCBC award, set for test run in Sats kitchens

SINGAPORE — Meals catered by the Singapore Airport Terminal Services (Sats) could be served in packaging made from sustainable plant materials in future.

Examples of Tria’s sustainable packaging solutions.

Examples of Tria’s sustainable packaging solutions.

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  • Sustainable food packaging company Tria won one of the two challenge statements in OCBC's first Sustainability Innovation Challenge
  • The company in Singapore made a pitch to work with Sats to revamp its catering operations
  • Part of this includes replacing paper or plastic wares typically used for food packaging
  • The other winner, Enexor BioEnergy, an energy company that specialises in renewable energy, pitched to install its system into Sats’ catering operations in Singapore

SINGAPORE — Meals catered by the Singapore Airport Terminal Services (Sats) could be served in packaging made from sustainable plant materials in future.

Tria, a sustainable food packaging company in Singapore, made an award-winning pitch to work with Sats to revamp its catering operations, part of which includes replacing paper or plastic wares typically used for food packaging.

Tria made the pitch at the OCBC Sustainability Innovation Challenge, where participants were tasked to find solutions to solve challenges related to waste management in the food industry.

The competition featured two challenge statements that drew the participation of 84 companies and startups, 15 of which were Singapore firms.

Tria won funding of up to S$80,000 for answering the challenge statement: “How might we design a business-to-consumer circular waste ecosystem?”

Its solution was what it described as a "closed-loop catering solution" that features the replacement of single-use plastics and paper wares with Neutria, which is made from plant materials.

"Closing the loop refers to products that have an infinite life cycle, continuing to contribute back to the environment instead of going to incineration," OCBC told TODAY.

In Tria's case, it "closed the loop" by ensuring that its packaging could go through a process that turns it into electricity, which could power kitchens to make more meals and package more food again.

Using Neutria, food waste does not need to be separated from the packaging for recycling purposes.

Instead, the waste and the packaging undergo a process that turns organic waste into biogas, an energy source, or digestate, which is used as a fertiliser.

This process takes around seven days, compared to three to four weeks typically.

After that, the energy and fertilisers will go to clients, such as farms, or used in powering kitchens.

The meals cooked by the kitchens then go back into sustainable packaging again.

Mr Lin Qing Yao, an operations manager at Tria, said at a press conference on Monday (Oct 10) that they were “looking at end-of-life solutions for single-use food service packaging” because current materials such as plastic and paper could get stained, which makes them hard and costly to recycle. 

The company will work with Sats to come up with a detailed proof of concept during the upcoming pilot programme beginning in the fourth quarter of this year, he added.

Tria has previously done a similar pilot programme, for a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet in Yishun.


OCBC collaborated with Sats this year to launch the first OCBC Sustainability Innovation Challenge, to identify challenges faced by the bank's corporate customers in moving towards greater sustainability. 

Mr Mike Ng, head of global wholesale banking sustainability office at OCBC, said: "The aviation industry and the food industry — they are such important industries that if we're really looking at turning to a more sustainable world, these industries will help to be part of the conversation. 

"According to the United Nations, one-third of the food that is being produced globally goes to waste. If we are able to come up with a good solution, it will work not only for Sats, but also to the wider aviation industry as well as the food industries around the world.” 

Separately, Enexor BioEnergy, a company based in the United States, won the challenge’s first statement: “How might we convert waste into byproducts of value – monetise waste while taking a more circular approach to waste management?”

The firm’s solution is to use an organic waste-fuelled microturbine to treat onsite waste at Sats’ catering operations in Singapore.

Mr Lee Jestings, founder and chief executive officer of Enexor BioEnergy, said: "Instead of the waste right now moving to a landfill, we want to redirect that. We use that (waste) to generate power on the site." 

Related topics

OCBC Sats Sustainability Innovation Challenge waste management food waste

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