Food Waste Is Not Really Just Waste

Singapore Green Plan
Singapore Green Plan
5 min readMar 30, 2023

Singaporeans are known to be foodies, but sadly, that doesn’t mean we always finish up all our food.

In 2021, Singapore generated 817,000 tonnes of food waste — enough to fill up 370 Olympic-size pools! This is 150,000 tonnes more than what we produced in 2020!

Food waste does not just refer to the leftovers we don’t finish on our plates. Food waste may also result from over ordering or buying too much (spot any expired or stale food in your fridge, anyone?), or the throwing out of blemished fruits and vegetables. Unavoidable food waste may also arise from cooking and food prep, such as bones, fruit skins, and even egg shells,

Recognising food waste as an important issue to be tackled, organisations such as Our Tampines Hub have spearheaded initiatives to reduce and treat food waste.


Our Tampines Hub (OTH) is Singapore’s first and largest integrated community and lifestyle hub, catering to the needs of over 225,000 Tampines residents and the eastern region of Singapore. OTH offers more than 30 community, sports, cultural, civic and lifestyle facilities integrated together over a sprawling 5.7 hectares. It is also home to a 800-seater hawker centre, more than 50 F&B outlets and a supermarket.

OTH was designed with eco features in mind. It has a closed loop system of environment solutions such as solar panels, water catchment, storage and filtration equipment, irrigation features, green walls, natural ventilation, and EV charging stations.

It also has a comprehensive food waste management system supported by an Eco-Digester Centre.


The tenants in OTH generate about 1.4 tonnes of food waste daily. These are accumulated from the hawker centre, cafes and supermarket.

According to the Deputy General Manager of OTH, Mr Patrick Ang, tenants are required to set aside their food waste so it can be collected for recycling. “When recyclables and food waste are mixed together, we won’t be able to recycle anything. But when waste is segregated properly, recyclables such as paper, plastic, metal cans and cardboard can be taken away to be recycled while food waste can be further treated and recycled on-site here,” Mr Ang says.

Food waste from tenants is collected at 8pm daily, using specially-designated pails to collect food waste.
At the tray return station at OTH’s hawker centre, food waste is collected to ensure they are recycled correctly.


The collected food waste then makes its way to the Eco-Digester Centre at the basement of OTH, There, workers load the food waste into the Eco-Digester. Then microbes — small micro-organisms that break down the food waste into simpler organic materials — are added to the mix. Within 24 hours, the food waste composter will convert the food waste entirely into three usable by-products — non-potable water, liquid plant nutrients, and organic fertiliser.

The Eco Digester helps to reduce the overall amount of waste sent to the landfill, says Mr Ang. Before the Eco Digester was installed, OTH required four waste collection trucks daily for waste disposal, but now they need just one, resulting in significant cost savings.

The food waste composting process is fully automatic. The waste just needs to be loaded onto the Eco Digester’s conveyor lift and it will be processed within 24 hours.
Located in OTH’s basement, the Eco Digester is able to process up to 2 tonnes of food waste a day. Non-potable water produced by the Eco Digester is used to mop the floor, while the liquid nutrients are used for gardening.


The Eco Digester allows OTH to enjoy a sustainable closed loop food waste management system, where the byproducts of the Eco-Digesters (organic fertiliser, liquid nutrients, non-potable water) are used to grow various vegetables at its rooftop community garden and take care of the landscaping in the hub.

OTH’s community rooftop garden boasts more than 50 varieties of fruits and vegetables, such as mustard greens, purple Japanese kale, normal kale, loose-leaf lettuce, and soursop.
OTH staff fertilises the plots that have been harvested by volunteers.

OTH’s Eco-Wellness Manager, Mr Ed Ng, oversees the hub’s sustainability initiatives. He shares that the organic fertiliser from the Eco Digester has a very high pH value, which is ideal for growing vegetables. The fertiliser is also not too wet nor smelly because the composting process kills the bacteria in the food waste.

“Because the digester produces more than enough organic fertiliser than what OTH can use, we give the fertiliser away to schools, other community gardens, and residents for free.”

Residents can collect free packets of organic fertiliser during OTH’s monthly giveaway.
Volunteer Victor Chua, 58, who is also a resident in Tampines, has been volunteering at the OTH community garden for 2 years.

Besides giving away free fertiliser, OTH also gives away more than 100kg of vegetables to residents once or twice a month, These giveaways are (understandably) popular with residents, some of whom would queue up as early as onehour before the start of the giveaway at 10am.

One of the residents who came early was retiree Robin Leong, 75. Besides the free vegetables, Mr Leong also looks forward to obtaining the organic fertiliser as he grows vegetables at home, too!

“The vegetables grown here are fresh and residents can learn how to grow their own vegetables at home too. I think there should be more spaces like the OTH community garden, it will definitely encourage more people to go green,” he said.

(L-R) Victor Chua, Koh Hoay Sim, and Veekna Sharma are regular volunteers at the OTH community garden.



Singapore Green Plan
Singapore Green Plan

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