Task 1B: Exploratory Research

In Task 1A, I decided to pick the issue about Climate Change as I felt that environmental issues have always resonated with me. However, I felt that the topic was too broad and I decided to narrow it down further to the causes of climate change. One of the causes which I found rather interesting was the vastly overlooked environmental issues of Food Waste.



Target Audience


Topic – Food waste, and the environmental impacts of food waste


Survey 1 – Climate Change in general

I did a short survey to find out more about what people think and are doing about climate change, and if the environmental impacts of food waste might be overlooked by Singaporeans, by not mentioning anything about food waste.


  • Almost all the respondents are concerned about global warming and climate change.
  • Most of the respondents listed plastics and fossil fuels as major contributors.
  • Deforestation, electricity, and transportation were mentioned by many too.
  • Only 2 mentioned about agriculture.
  • 1 person mentioned food waste.
  • All the respondents said they were willing to adopt more environmentally-friendly habits, and are currently practicing some.


Survey 2 – Food Waste

A few weeks later, I did another survey more specifically about food waste to find out more about my target audience’s understanding of food waste.

Target audience does not cook often / at all, and the 2 respondents who chose “a few times a week” were aged 41 and above.

The majority of the respondents felt that food waste was a problem in Singapore and many stated socio-economic issues, such as there are many others in poorer countries or families which are not able to afford food, and that we were wasting food which could have been given to those who needed them. 6 respondents stated terms such as “pollution”, “global warming” and “wastage of resources”.

Whereas another 6 respondents felt that food waste might or might not be a problem, as food waste can be decomposed unlike plastics, and could also be reused as fertilisers. A few also cited that there were initiatives where we could donate unwanted food before it spoils to prevent food waste.

After asking if the respondents thought of food waste as a problem in Singapore, I decided to gauge how big of a problem do they think it was and if they knew the exact figure.

Only 3 respondents selected the correct figure ( 760,000,000kg in 2018 ). Whereas the majority ( 23 respondents ), thought that food wastage in Singapore was smaller, with 14 respondents thinking it might even be more than 100x smaller.

The respondents’ top three reasons for food waste was base portion being too big, discounts for buying more, and food turning bad / expiring.

Only 3 thought food waste was incinerated, while the majority thought that our food waste were decomposed or recycled into fertilisers, or were unsure.

8 respondents stated environmental impacts, such as pollution, wastage of resources, and climate change.

Whereas the majority stated social / monetary impacts such as high demands from us means low supply for the people in the poorer countries. People would take food for granted because food is so accessible to us in Singapore. Or that wasting food is wasting money.


Insights from surveys + research

  • Most respondents does not cook – do not often buy perishable groceries
      • However many cited “food turning bad / expired” as their reason too – perhaps other perishables such as bread, confectioneries, fruits, dairies and other food such as homecooked / leftovers / takeaways.
      • Target Audience are either studying or working – majority of them would take meals outside.


  • Most respondents are concerned about the environment, and are willing to adopt or have already been practicing at least one or more environmentally-friendly habit(s) in their lifestyle.
      • Which mostly revolved around plastics.
      • Worldwide coverage / emphasis on the plastic problem.
      • Movements in Singapore – e.g. no straws at F&B, rise of reusable straws, needing to pay extra for takeaways / plastic bags / paper bags to reduce plastic usage.


  • Most respondents were tend to overlook / are unaware of the extent of the environmental impacts of food waste.
      • Food waste is a social, economic, environmental issue.
      • Respondents who cited environmental impacts and cited that resources used to produce the food, such as water, manpower, time, are wasted.
            • Tend to overlook that wastage includes other resources such as transportation, packaging, agricultural resources, land, etc.
            • As well as food waste which was occurred during upstream and midstream – not just downstream (  after it ends up in retail / with consumers )
            • Risks of contaminating other recyclables and hindering recycling efforts.
      • Tend to only think more about the environmental impacts when they are reminded about it.
            • e.g. when asked “what do we waste when we waste food?”
      • Most cited social / economic / monetary issues.
            • Tend to overlook environmental impact as they were not very aware / felt that those other issues were more important
                  • Even though they were rather interlinked
                        • Climate change affects the prices and supplies of food, and would further contribute to food security and food poverty.
            • Most of the previous campaigns about food waste in Singapore were focused on monetary impacts:
                  • Asked some respondents, they felt that the campaigns were more applicable to households.
                        • Waste less, Save More for a fun family outing
                        • Don’t cook often – not wasting money on unused groceries
                  • From my survey, food waste was largely due to portion issues.
                        • Asking for lesser portion does not mean that it would be cheaper.
                        • “More food better than not enough food” thinking

Credits: National Environment Agency


  • Lack of knowledge about food waste in Singapore.
      • Underestimated the amount of food waste that we generate and dispose.
            • And food waste in Singapore have been increasing by approximately 40% over the last decade.
      • Very aware of the plastic problem but unaware of food waste which was the second most disposed-of waste after plastics in 2018.
      • Most respondents are unaware of what happens to our food waste after it enters the bin.
      • A large number believed that food waste would be recycled / decomposed / turned into fertilisers.
            • When food rots, it produced methane, a greenhouse gas which is 30x more potent than carbon dioxide.
            • Only 17% of our food were recycled.
            • Anaerobic Digesters – converting methane from decomposition into electricity at processing plants are still under research & testing.
            • However, despite the development of food waste recycling technologies, it is still “best to not waste food in the first place”.
  • Most respondents did not know that food waste were incinerated.
        • Considered a good way to dispose food waste.
              • To prevent them from producing methane and reduce the space needed for landfill disposal
              • Able to produce biogas to produce electricity
              • However, food should not be wasted in the first place due the large amount of resources used to produce them.



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