Food waste

Protein crisps from chicken trim. Tea from coffee bean husks. Spent grains from breweries turned into fibre-rich “superflour”. Enterprising companies have been creating value out of food waste for years. Last year, CNBC reported that tackling food waste can present some US$2.5 trillion (S$3.5 trillion) worth of business opportunities.

William Leonard, group general manager of The Loco Group that spearheaded the F&B Sustainability Council – a collective of hospitality and lifestyle companies addressing sustainability – agrees that there are benefits. Repurposing what could have been binned may contribute to some $20,000 to $30,000 in savings for a restaurant each year.

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“Our bars use syrup made out of avocado seeds, and a lot of leftover garnishes are dehydrated and used as a dust on the rims,” he reveals. Imagine extrapolating this same repurposing creativity on an industrial scale. The council is lobbying for a collective food waste processor ‘and positioning itself as a platform for testing new technologies through working with government agencies. In the next three or four months, it will launch a pilot programme with home-grown company TRIA, which makes sustainable packaging from food waste.

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Leonard highlights that existing food waste processors tend to be for large-scale use, leaving independent F&B operators in the cold. On the other hand, while compact under-counter processors with a 50kg capacity might be suited for small restaurants – which he estimates can generate around 30kg of food waste daily – they remain inaccessible with a price tag of $5,000 to $10,000. There is a gap in the market to fill, and he hopes that the council can demonstrate this to technology providers.

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But for all the money talk, Leonard stresses this: “Our objective is not to look at the issue from a cost point of view – doing this isn’t going to generate great profits in six months. We are doing this simply because it is the right thing to do.”