Singapore has established its first standard for food manufacturers to limit food waste, along with new technology to record production inefficiencies, in order to tackle the 800,000t of food waste thrown away every year.

The Singapore Standard 633:2017, was launched by the Food Standards Committee (FSC) together with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research and the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) claimed that Singapore generated more than 800,000t of waste last year, which equates to 140kg per capita. NEA deputy-chief executive officer Khoo Seow Poh noted that food waste in Singapore has increased by around 40% in the last ten years, with a risk that the country’s rising Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will result in an increase in food waste.

In response, Singapore Food Manufacturers Association former president Wong Mong Hong said: “If the problem of food waste remains unresolved, the food industry sustainability will be disrupted, the costs of production increased and the product competitiveness impaired.”

Singapore recycles around 16% of food waste. Khoo said the national target is set at 70% by 2030, but this will require industry-wide cooperation between stakeholders, manufacturers and processors.

The standard is expected to help reduce food waste and improve manufacturing practices through the more efficient use of food resources at every level of the supply chain, taking into account food loss, waste, overproduction, expiration, spoilage, overcooked items, and contaminated foods.

In order to counteract the lack of expertise and know-how in the industry, Sustainability & Life Cycle Management scientist Dr Jonathan Low invented new smart software, called Food Wise, to help food manufacturers implement food waste management.

He said: “This software is user-friendly and a ‘no-brainer’ for the user. Everything can be done for you including the analysis and the tracking of projects.”

The software conducts real-time tracking of food waste and provides auto alerts on production inefficiencies or anomalies. It would cost around S$85,000 for installation, implementation and training to use Food Wise, but funding of up to 80% could be provided by Singapore’s Employment and Employability Institute.

Singapore’s food waste places the country towards the higher end of the spectrum worldwide. According to figures from the Food Sustainability Index 2017, published by the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition, Singapore’s food loss per capita is equal to Italy at 145kg. The worst offenders include Saudi Arabia (427kg), Australia (361kg), and the US (277kg), while the best nations for mitigating food loss are Greece and China (44kg), and India (51kg).