Mandatory Food Waste Segregation:

What it means + Case Study

Ho Lip Teng | Jude Chen | 20 Jan 2023

· Zero Waste,Singapore,Food Waste,Composting,Waste Segregation

Food waste is a high disposal, low recycling waste stream in Singapore. In 2021, only 19% of the 817,000 tonnes of food waste was recycled.

In 2019, NEA has mandated that “owners and operators of commercial and industrial premises, where large amounts of food waste are generated, to segregate their food waste for treatment”. See below for more details.

The full legislation is expected to come online in 2024. Building managers that fail to comply may be fined and/ or jailed for repeat offences. To minimise operational disruptions, businesses should implement their food waste segregation plans now!

Types of Businesses Affected

New developments approved since 1st Jan 2021 will be required to have on-site food waste treatment systems in their plans. They will be required to implement on-site food waste treatment come 2024.

Existing commercial and industrial premises building managers are allowed to choose the location of food waste treatment method (on-site/off-site) depending on their business operations. However, on-site food waste segregation is a pre-requisite to comply with the Resource Sustainability Act (RSA).

Premises affected by Food Waste Segregation requirements imposed by NEA

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Case Study: Shopping Mall with F&B Area > 3,000 m


Categorising Food Waste

In a shopping mall, major food waste contributors are usually the F&B operators. Food waste from F&B operators can be classified into two major forms.


Generated in the kitchen of the F&B operators. This can be easily managed as the food waste generated is less contaminated with packaging waste when segregation at source can be easily executed.


Category: Vegetable trimmings, egg shells, fruit peels, expired food, spent coffee grounds, etc.

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Photo: Well-segregated food waste at source, easily digestible/compostable by an on-site food waste treatment system. Alternatively, they have high value to be off-take for biogas recovery at co-digestion plant.

Slight headache:

Category: Big bones, oyster shells, coconut husks etc.

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Photo: Large bones from a restaurant in Singapore

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Photo: Oyster shell from the kitchen, homogenous and can be segregated at source easily.

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Photo: Coconut husks/shell, homogenous and can be segregated at source for recycling easily.


Category: Vegetable trimmings, egg shells, fruit peels, expired food, spent coffee grounds, etc. nd other waste such as straws and tissue paper i.e. waste segregation becomes more complex with increasing contact points.


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Photo: Post-consumer leftover food waste from a hotel restaurant in Singapore. Staff are well-trained to practice waste segregation at source. Waste is ready to be sent to on-site food waste treatment system.

Slight headache:

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Photo: Poorly segregated commingle food waste in general waste bin. Consist of packaging waste, beverage bottles, paper etc. making the food waste not suitable for food waste treatment system


The problem of not having waste segregation done at the point of waste generation; unknown contents below the surface of waste in the bulk bin. This could lead to loss or damage of property/assets and contamination of food waste which could otherwise be recycled.

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Photo: Damaged utensils belonging to a restaurant, extracted from an on-site food waste treatment system. These items have caused the system to malfunction.


What can building managers do for food waste segregation?

Pre-Consumer Waste:

  • Introduce 3-bin system for each F&B operator (food vs packaging vs others (other general waste)).
  • Cleaner in food courts + restaurants to be trained and incentivised to perform food waste segregation task into 3-bin system.

Post-Consumer Waste:

  • Introduce sorting table + sorting staff in bin centres. It is expected that only 5% of food waste remains in general waste bins outside of food courts and restaurants.
  • Introduce 3-bin system in general areas. This would still require sorting for each bag but cross-contamination is lowered.

How do you get buy-in from difficult stakeholders and implement food waste segregation at source? Talk to us here.