(Image: ST Illustration by Manny Francisco)

As former World Bank urban development specialist Dan Hoornweg and two colleagues highlighted, the growing global urban population will be producing three times as much waste by year 2100 as it does today. That level of waste carries serious consequences – physical and fiscal – for cities around the world. 

Setting aside household food waste as animal feed is an ingenious method of converting food waste into food for animals, but that is no longer plausible in Singapoe as the last pig farm in Punggol closed down in 1990 because of pollution to the waterways and the overall environment.

As for chicken farms, not all kitchen scraps are suitable as chicken feed, such as leftover canned food.

In addition, the kitchen scraps would rot and become unsuitable because of the tropical climate in Singapore.

This method is suitable only for small-scale home farms.

The provision of food waste containers to every household may not be viable, as the overall cost may make it uneconomical.

Also, strict co-operation of the residents and adherence to environmental guidelines are required for the scheme to work.

At present, it is already an uphill challenge just to get people to separate recyclables from the general garbage bound for the incinerator.

For a possible solution, we should take a look at how some other countries handle their food waste.

Some countries have combined part of the garbage disposal system with the plumbing system, by installing grinders in the sinks of each household and modifying the piping to carry food waste to a disposal plant.

In Singapore, a trial run could be carried out in one of the newer Build-To-Order projects.

The residents should be given a handbook that details the kinds of waste that could go into the sink as well as instructions on the maintenance of the device.

The food waste coming from these pipes could be processed and channelled into a large digester machine at a treatment plant to transform them into usable fertilisers. We should use technology to solve our garbage woes.

(First published in The Straits Times)