Food Waste Not
The success story of food waste recycling at Clarke Quay
Issue: Jan 2011
Going Green with food at Clarke Quay
Have you ever wondered how much food wastes the restaurants at Clarke Quay collect a day? The answer is one tonne or just 20 per cent of its total normal waste collection. In October 2010, the management of Clarke Quay, a waterfront food and entertainment precinct in Singapore filled with popular restaurants, wine bars, entertainment spots and retail shops, embarked on a Food Waste Recycling Pilot Project. By the end of the month, it collected about 20 tonnes of food waste “In line with our nation’s growing emphasis on Going Green, we recognise that we could do our part in saving the Earth, particularly in food waste recycling given the number of food & beverage (F&B) outlets in Clarke Quay,” said Kwong Wing Kwee, Senior Manager (Operations) of Clarke Quay.
Thanks to the active participation of its tenants, the project was a rousing success! 34 out of 51 F&B tenants at Clarke Quay participated actively in the initiative. Food Waste Recycling is a process that turns organic wastes into compost for soil improvement or into heat to provide electricity for houses. The process is also controlled to minimise the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
And this effort is significant because according to IUT Global, Singapore-based niche environmental waste management company, Singaporeans generate over 530,000 tonnes of food waste a year, or 1,450 tonnes a day. Of this, only seven percent is recycled. The Singapore Green Plan 2012 targets to raise this recycling rate of food wastes to 30 per cent by year 2012.
Recipe for Success
The management at Clarke Quay knew from the start that for the pilot project to be successful, it needed the close cooperation of three key parties: CapitaMalls Asia, Clarke Quay– Centre Management Office (CQ-CMO), its tenants and their kitchen staff.
So, CQ-CMO engaged IUT Global to help implement the project. Together with IUT staff, CQ-CMO visited all the F&B tenants to explain and educate them on the project. Restaurants were briefed on the objectives and procedures involved. It was a crucial and necessary step that garnered strong support from the tenants for the project.
Participating in Clarke Quay’s food recycling initiative is an extension of its green practices at Coriander Leaf
Food wastes are loaded into these specially provided 660L IUT bulk bins for recycling
“Recycling is always something that is practiced by Coriander Leaf. For example, we sell our waste oil to an industrial vendor for recycling. So our initial thought to Clarke Quay’s initiative was that the programme was a good idea. Recycling is more about being socially responsible as there is no direct gain to or from our customers,” shared Dominique Chang, Restaurant Manager at Coriander Leaf.
Once they got the tenants’ buy-in, CQ-CMO and IUT staff proceeded to meet with the kitchen staff of participating tenants to walk them through the importance of the project and how they could play a key role in saving the Earth.
“There was initial concern on whether tenants could see through the entire process, given the additional procedures that needed to be put in place. For example, the kitchen staff were required to separate food wastes from non-food, non-recyclable wastes into plastic bags before taking them to the transfer bin for cleaners to load into the 660L IUT bulk bins at the loading bays or the sub-collection centres,” revealed Kwong.
But the concern turned into consolation when 34 tenants gave their strong support for the pilot project despite the extra steps involved.
Despite extra efforts required, IndoChine was one of the outlets that participated wholeheartedly in the pilot project
“It was difficult at the start, getting used to sorting out food waste and it was a bit of an effort to have our staff move the food waste to the main refuse centre. But in our efforts to be green and socially responsible, this exercise has opened up yet another area on top of our existing efforts to ‘be a green business’,” shared Eugene Lim, Marketing Manager of IndoChine which owns and operates The Forbidden City at Clarke Quay.
Alvin See, Operations Manager of Katrina Holdings which owns Renn Thai, agreed and expressed that they were glad to be a part of the programme. “It is a great idea and we are pleased to have been onboard. We feel strongly that it is our responsibility to go green. Although we faced some challenges initially especially with the added procedures for kitchen staff but it got easier over time and it naturally became part of our Standard Operation Procedure. We hope to lead by example and in so doing encourage others to follow suit,” he said.
Ibuki Horie, Assistant General Manager of Tomo Izakaya, agreed readily to have his restaurant participate in the project. In fact he was very excited about it, having worked in the F&B industry in Japan, where care for the environment has been a widely held value for more than a decade.
Waste Not for the Future
The Food Waste Recycling programme at Clarke Quay followed an earlier project at ION Orchard, which also yielded good results.
Hence, CapitaMalls Asia plans to roll the successful programme out progressively to all their shopping malls in Singapore this year. “Important lessons learnt from the same food waste recycling project at the two malls - ION Orchard and Clarke Quay - will be taken into consideration in implementing the programme for the other malls,” said Kwong. Given CapitaMalls Asia’s extensive reach and the impressive track record in the pilot projects, the probability of a successful rollout of the project to the rest of its malls island-wide is high.
Looking ahead to the Lunar New Year next month when food waste is typically at a peak, here are some ideas on how you can do your part in putting leftovers such as chicken, pork, seafood and vegetables to good use:
- Seafood fried rice
- Chicken stew
- Chicken soup
- Mixed vegetable
Here’s wishing all a “Happy Green Year”!
Editor's Note: The food waste recycling exercise has been temporarily stalled with the closure of IUT. CapitaMalls Asia remains committed to food waste recycling and is on the lookout for an appropriate recycler for this programme.