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  • Writer's pictureJarratt Ong

Second Lives! A dialogue on food waste

Updated: Oct 27, 2021

Second Lives, a dialogue on food waste, is organized by the NUS Enterprise-BoP Hub Joint Initiative on Social System Innovation with a panel and a curated audience with businesses or interests in the food waste sector! This dialogue was moderated by our content lead, Irsyad, who spoke to Augustine Q, Shen Ming Lee, and Betty Lu. We are grateful to have them as part of the sustainability community. The key objective is to contribute to the creation of businesses with societal impact and discuss opportunities for innovations.


What are the opportunities when it comes to tackling food waste?

From finding creative ways to upcycle food, to moving away from industrial animal agriculture that's leading to the whole alternative protein movement, these are important measures and sustainability opportunities that our speakers wanted to emphasie to audiences.

Other measures suggested was to also look into solutions like bio based coatings, ethylene suppressors or even digitizing and measuring our food waste and loss to help manage supply and demand better.

What is exciting is that there are many ecosystem players working on these wide varieties as they come together to check-in with one another to make sure everyone is working towards the same goal. They are helping to creating sustainable cities and communities of our dreams.


A recurring challenge, when trying to build a sustainable society, that came up is the topic of supply chain and logistical issues that hinders well-meaning efforts. This could be due to companies trying to hit the minimum order quantities, finding manpower especially during Singapore's Heightened Alert, and dealing with a large scale of different sources to gather the food waste.

Fear not. One important insight uncovered was the need to try and keep the supply chain hyperlocalised in order to help upcycle wasted fresh produce and allow for quick reaction to problems:

An example is the novel usage of the Ulam Raja flower as a substitute when trying to create hyperlocalized models to substitute the hops for beers. Hops are imported from very far away such as from the UK and US and the carbon footprint contributes to the beer production. CRUST worked with partners like HK Ng from Edible Garden City to source hop substitutes and grow it locally here.

What is an environmentally sustainable society without some ingenious way to solve problems by amazing social enterprises? We gotta love creative social entrepreneurship

Making Progress

A few commitments mentioned from the panel help them keep their companies in-check of their goals such as being members of the Upcycle Food Association as they conform with 8 of the 17 goals set forth by the UN, and they are also accredited as a social enterprise by Business for Good which requires them to declare how many rescued veggies are salvaged during production!

Another important suggestion for making progress is the need to create incentives which can potentially change the mindset of businesses when it comes to tackling food waste. One example is the need for a NEA certification that shows that companies are being a part of the movement to upcycle food waste and they upcycle X amount of waste every year. This empowers consumers to keep businesses in check to their goals.

What do you think about the strategies brought up by the panel?

We absolutely love the amazing impact-making ecosystem players taking the time to tackle food waste. Want to be a part of a sustainability community for founders and talents? Check out our platform for founders and talents!

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