Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong (Non-Constituency Member): Mdm Chair, the NEA reported that in 2014, less than 13% of food waste was recycled and over 680,000 tonnes had to be incinerated. This number is only going to grow with our increasing population and given the prosperity of the population and the Singaporean culture of eating out.
Recently, NEA announced the launch of a two-year onsite food waste recycling pilot at two hawker centres at Ang Mo Kio and Tiong Bahru. This is a good move. But for an urgent problem, it is insufficient.
I have two suggestions to accelerate food waste recycling. First, food waste recycling in hawker centres is a long-hanging fruit as NEA is in charge of the space. However, hawker centres do not seem to account for large amount of food waste. The Ang Mo Kio and Tiong Bahru markets together produce an estimated 1,800 tonnes of food waste a year but the markets occupy a central place in the town centres and the NEA could extend the pilot projects to a wider catchment area to cover nearby private coffee shops, food courts and grocery stores. This makes food waste recycling readily accessible at town centres.
In fact, the NEA could also experiment with getting the surrounding HDB households to bring down their food waste to the recycling centres. This will gauge the readiness of households to adopt food waste recycling and allow the NEA to test different methods to get households to recycle their food waste correctly and cleanly.
Second, the NEA should begin simultaneous pilot projects to encourage food waste recycling at clusters of F&B joints such as those in shop house rows or shopping malls across the city. This may present more challenges than hawker centres due to diverse stakeholders and configuration of space. Therefore, the pilot should start earlier. There is more time to evaluate and test the recycling methods.
The Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources (Dr Amy Khor Lean Suan): Mdm Chair, climate change has brought about new threats and challenges. At the same time, it is putting more strain on our already limited resources. It is therefore vital going forward that Singapore and Singaporeans embrace greater environmental sustainability.
One area which requires attention is food waste, as pointed out by Dr Chia and Assoc Prof Goh. In 2015, Singapore generated almost 800,000 tonnes of food waste, or 10% of all waste. This is equivalent to two bowls of food per person, per day. This is why we launched a programme last November to encourage everyone to reduce food wastage.
We also want to encourage onsite recycling of food waste. We launched onsite food waste recycling projects in January this year at two of our hawker centres. At Hougang Ci Yuan hawker centre, Fei Siong Food Management has also voluntarily installed a food waste recycling machine there. These projects will assess the economic and operational aspects of on-site food waste recycling, and if feasible, we plan to roll this out to more of our hawker centres.
Many premises that generate significant volumes of food waste are already doing food waste recycling. I am heartened that about 30 premises, including Resorts World Sentosa, JEM and Singapore Polytechnic, have installed food waste recycling machines at their premises.
In another upcoming pilot project, we plan to start collecting food waste by the end of this year from multiple premises in the Clementi district, including army camps, schools, restaurant clusters, a hawker centre and a hospital. The food waste will be mixed with used water sludge to enhance energy recovery. If successful, this could be implemented at the future co-located Integrated Waste Management Facility and the Tuas Water Reclamation Plant.