FOOD WASTE

29 Mar We Are Hiring – Research Project Manager in Singapore (Application Period Closed)

Note: The application period for this role has closed. We will be in touch with shortlisted candidates.


Placement Title: Research Project Manager
Location: Singapore
Start & End Date: 1st May 2018 onwards
Time Requirement: Full Time (5 days a week)

About the Role:

Gone Adventurin is working on several pioneering, strategic projects in Asia to tackle the serious environmental challenges posed by post-consumer waste in the areas of packaging, particularly plastics, and food.

Why Asia? Because Asia is the biggest contributor to post-consumer waste mismanagement in the world. Over 80% of plastics entering the oceans comes from Asia with just 5 countries responsible for most of this pollution. 52% of fruits and vegetables in Asia are wasted, with the majority of this food loss happening at farm, post-harvest and processing stages even before it reaches stores, supermarkets or consumers.

If you are inspired to tackle the complex challenges of plastic entering the oceans, making packaging circular and impacting the huge amounts of food waste generated across supply chains here in Asia then consider joining our team. Gone Adventurin is a sustainability consultancy and project implementation partner on a mission to tackle post-consumer waste in Asia. Our vision is to create a world without waste.

We are looking for an experienced Research Project Manager with strong analytical, strategic thinking and relationship skills. Ideally your background includes working in management or environmental consulting or in a research, strategy or data analytics role in business, government agencies or NGOs.

This role involves working on packaging and food waste projects for prominent clients from leading chemicals, packaging, consumer goods and retail industries as well as city and national government agencies across Southeast Asia and India. The focus of the role will be to: create pioneering science based research; provide key insights, strategic recommendations and measurable outcomes; and implement groundbreaking strategies to significantly drive circular economy in Asia.

Working with us provides the opportunity to work in a small, mindfully growing, Singapore-headquartered company dedicated to finding business-driven solutions to tackle waste challenges in Asia. We are dedicated, diverse team of 5 nationalities with multi-faceted backgrounds in packaging science, environmental science, engineering, economics, policy and finance. While primarily based in Singapore, the role involves local travel within the Asia region with an opportunity to meet and build relationships with a wide range of local stakeholders from industry, government and NGOs.

Requirements:

○ 3+ years of experience in management or environmental consulting or in a research, strategy or data analytics role in business, government agencies or NGOs

○ Bachelor’s degree in Physical Sciences (e.g. Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry), Engineering, Environment, Statistics, Business, Accounting or Finance

○ Advanced problem-solving, analytical skills, evidenced research capabilities (e.g. past research or data analysis reports which shows capabilities in these areas) and experience in primary and secondary data collection

○ Strong communication and interpersonal skills to work with various clients and stakeholders

○ The right attitude and skills to work with and manage relationships with people of all backgrounds, from C-Level and senior management of multinationals to recycling workers

○ Capable and comfortable traveling throughout Asia to conduct research and meet with stakeholders

○ Evidenced passion and deep-seated aspiration to tackle environmental challenges

○ Self motivated and highly organized individual able to work in a dynamic and deliverables-oriented work environment

○ Excellent referrals from at least 2 previous clients or past employers

○ Proficiency in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel)

○ Strong English skills – verbal and written

○ Based in Singapore and committed to be based in Singapore for a minimum of 2 years

Preferred:

○ Experience in leading teams to successfully deliver on projects within timelines

○ Past experience in plastics, waste management or recycling industries. If you do not have waste management experience and/or circular economy understanding we require you to take 1-2 short online courses before starting on the role

○ Proficiency in using Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides

How to Apply:

To apply please send to ashwin@goneadventurin.com all of the below:

1. Your CV

2. Cover letter and

3. Past reports that you have worked on which shows your capabilities in research and data analysis

Note for Applicants:

○ We usually receive a number of applicants for our open positions so we’ll only be able to respond to applicants who meet our requirements

○ Applicants who meet our requirements for this role can expect a 3-step interview process

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1200px-GI_Market_food_waste

30 Jul Eating our way out of climate change

As global affluence increases, food and food security are increasingly taken for granted. Farmers discard “ugly” food that they are unable to sell, supermarkets and food outlets bin the leftovers that consumers are unable to finish, and, of course, consumers order way too much. The situation has grown to such an extent that food waste now ranks amongst the most pressing global challenges – and contributes significantly to climate change.

What is Food Waste?

Food waste is the removal of food from the supply chain. It could have been fit for consumption or spoilt, and is mainly caused by economic behaviour, poor stock management, and neglect. Globally, 1/3 of food that is produced (about 1.3 billion tonnes of food) is discarded before it can be eaten. If even 1/4 of this loss could be saved, it could feed about 870 million hungry people in the world. This loss of food happens all through the food supply chain as summarised in the table below, covering the whole gamut of activities starting from production till consumption.

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Where is Food Wasted?

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Food loss and food waste differ from region to region globally. In developed regions, such as Europe and North America, food waste is often seen at the consumption stage. More than 50% of food is wasted near the fork, because food is just not valued as highly in such affluent regions. In North America and Oceania alone, 42% of food available is lost or wasted, and more than 60% of this is wasted by consumers.

This is in stark contrast to areas such as Sub-Saharan African and South and and Southeast Asia, where the bulk of the food loss is at the production, handling, and storage stages. To begin with, crops are “discarded post-harvest for not meeting cosmetic standards” – in other words food is just frivolously being thrown away for not being “pretty” enough to be eaten. Because food losses near the farm are predominant, it can affect the ability of farmers to make a good living, resulting in lesser young people wanting to go into farming. This, again affects the global food supply chain, and can only get worse with rates of food waste going up, and rates of food production going down an average of 2% every decade. The difference in perspective on the value of food can be seen from how per capita food wasted in Europe and North-America is 95-115 kg/year, but only 6-11 kg/year in sub-Saharan Africa and South/Southeast Asia.

Needless to say, the three main culprits are 1) Supermarkets, 2) Food Services, and 3) Consumers. Farmers are forced to reject “ugly” food because supermarkets will not accept them, food service operators like restaurants, hotels and food centres throw away food that they are unable to sell, and consumers will not even bat an eyelid chucking away their half-eaten meals.

Impact of Food Waste

Ignoring the fact that the food wastage could feed hundreds of millions of hungry mouths, food loss has a huge strain on the environment. Food that is harvested but ultimately lost or wasted consumes about one-quarter of all water used by agriculture each year . Worse still, if food waste were a country, it would be the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, generating about 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions annually. With COP22, where countries are all trying to reduce the effect of global warming, food still remains the low-hanging fruit that can very easily be leveraged to help meet our emissions goals.

The economic losses that come with food loss is also extremely significant. In just London alone, it is estimated that food waste costs the waste authorities over £50 million per year, and the city’s consumers £1.4 billion per year. Globally, the number is even more astonishing. In developed countries, the economic costs comes up to a whopping US$ 680 billion, and an additional US$ 310 billion in developing countries.

What is being done

With food waste being recognised by many countries and businesses as a pressing issue, there are some efforts being put into place to reduce food loss. The first step in doing so, would be for governments and business to be accountable for their food wastage.

The Food Loss & Waste Protocol (FLW Protocol) is one such example. The FLW protocol is a multi-stakeholder effort to develop the global accounting and reporting standard (known as the FLW Standard) for quantifying food removed from the food supply chain. A wide range of entities – countries, companies and other organisations – have joined to be accountable and report in a credible, practical, and internationally consistent manner on the quantity of food waste created and identify where it occurs, thus enabling the targeted efforts to reduce it.

Another such example is Champions 12.3, which is a “unique coalition of more than three dozen leaders from around the world dedicated to inspiring ambition, mobilising action, and accelerating progress toward achieving SDG Target 12.3” such as Unilever (Paul Polman), Nestle, WRAP, Government, Consumer Goods Forum, WWF and Tristram Stuart. This ambitious target aims to reduce per capita global food waste by 50% by 2030!

Upon establishing accountability for their food wastage, governments are also adopting legislation that put their efforts into law. In February 2016, a legislation was passed whereby French supermarkets are required to donate unsold yet still edible food to charities. The law includes requirements that companies disclose food waste in their corporate social responsibility reporting and that food waste education is included in school curricula. France also passed a new law to ensure all plastic cups, cutlery and plates can be composted and are made of biologically-sourced materials.

This is particularly useful for a charity like WeFood in Denmark, which operates a food waste supermarket that receive donations of food from various suppliers, and then sells them to the consumers at a price that is 30% to 50% cheaper than they would normally cost. This is a triple win situation, where the charity is able to make a profit to fund its operations, consumers get cheaper food, and food wastage is reduced.

Meaningful collaborations that reduce food waste

There are many solutions that currently exist in the market that can help businesses to reduce their food waste. For example, in 2016, Tesco rolled out “Community Food Connection,” which is in collaboration with FareShare, a charity aimed at reducing food waste. In this collaboration, they developed an online application ‘FoodCloud’ which allows charities to be informed of food surplus in various Tesco outlets. The charities will then be able to collect the excess food, to distribute to those in need.

Collaborating with various hotels, Winnow has made use of technology to reduce food waste. Food waste is thrown into bins that are placed on their smart weighing meter technology, and in real-time, staff are shown the value of the items that they have thrown away. They even have reports that are sent to the organisation, to track progress. Their clients include Sofitel in Bangkok as well as the Intercontinental Hotels Group, amongst others.

It is undeniable that the amount of food wasted globally is putting a strain on achieving the various Sustainable Development Goals. Food waste affects SDG 1 – No Poverty, SDG 2 – Zero Hunger, SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production, and SDG 13 – Climate Change, to name a few. With new laws and regulations being put in place to ensure these goals are being met, businesses are beginning to feel the pressure to reduce their food waste. The ones that leverage the many cutting edge solutions to operate on the forefront of this wave stand to reap the biggest long-term benefits.

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Foodwaste

11 Apr Food security: SE Asia is facing a food crisis

The perception is that farming is not a desirable career, due to unpredictable returns and lack of prestige. As the social value of education increases, more youth leave rural areas, creating a labour drain. If farming is not seen as valuable or profitable, how can it compete with the lights of the city? If over a third of all food is thrown away, it speaks volumes about the lack of value these vital ingredients have in our society. How can it be that food is perceived as something so worthless?

What changes can be made?

Read more in my article here.

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02 Dec Food – the low hanging fruit in tackling Climate Change

Current global food systems are one of the key causes of climate change. Apart from the obvious resources – water and land use for growing, carbon emissions from transportation, energy and plastic for packaging – there is another insidious problem – food waste. We recently had a chance to speak with Gwyneth Fries, Senior Sustainability Advisor at Forum for the Future to get some insights into the nature of these challenges.

Food Waste contributes to 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions (with 3.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide). To put things in perspective, the world’s largest contributors of greenhouse gases are China and USA respectively, but if food waste were to be a country, it would be third. In Singapore alone in 2015, there were 785,500 tonnes of food waste generated. This could fill up 670 Olympic-size swimming pools! Luckily, food waste is also the easiest one to tackle.

Who is responsible?

Farmers and Supermarkets

In America, supermarkets are throwing away 10% of the food that they sell at their stores because they overstocked, or are past their expiration date. But wait, that’s not all! Before food is even sold by supermarkets, an estimated 30% of food that is grown by farmers is rejected because they are ‘ugly’. That is to say that ⅓ of food that is grown for human consumption, doesn’t even leave the farm because they are not the right shape or size, or have some kind of physical imperfections.

Food Services (Restaurants, hotels, food centres)

Unsurprisingly, food service operators have a huge part to play in contributing to food waste. Food waste generated by food services have been estimated at 10%. That is just purely food that has been purchased, but are thrown out before that make it to the diner’s table. And additional 17% of food is thrown out once they reach the diners, people like you and I – everyday consumers.

Consumers

It’s not jarringly obvious to us, but when we leave that half-eaten plate of rice because we ordered too much, or throw away that can of expired sardines that we left at the back of our cabinets – we are contributing significantly to food waste.

Like most things, we are unable to fathom the scale of our individual actions in comparison to the larger scheme of things. But did you know that of the total amount of food waste, 33% is contributed by consumers themselves? That means that approximately 259,050 tonnes of food wasted in Singapore is because of consumers throwing away their food!

What can we do?

Now that we have identified the main culprits, there are some simple steps that we can all take to reverse the trend of food waste.

Farmers and Supermarkets

Take the lead in educating the public that ‘ugly’ food is the same as other food and start selling it in store. The mindset that “ugly” fruits and vegetables are not fit for consumption needs to be changed. Currently 65% of Singaporeans are willing to purchase such produce at a lower price, which is a good start. What this means for farmers and supermarkets is to not throw out these ‘ugly’ food – it makes no financial sense – and if they educate consumers to purchase such food from the bottom up, then from the top down, they need to make it available for consumers to purchase too!

Food Services

There are many ways in which food services can reduce their food waste, such as donating their leftover food to organisations like the Food Bank so that they can be distributed to the needy. Or, take the lead from Marina Bay Sands, which measures and analyses food wastage information to be able to prepare appropriate quantities subsequently. Or go a step further and make use of machines to convert food waste into non-potable water that can be disposed of into the sewers. We spoke to Kevin Teng, Head of Sustainability at MBS, on other ways in which they are tackling food waste.

Consumers

Do not over-order. It’s just that simple! Order what you can consume, and if you need to, tell the uncle at the economical rice stall that you want less rice, they are more than willing to oblige. Or if you fall into the trap of buying too much food from your local supermarkets when they are having a promotion, and then forgetting to consume them before their expiration date, then download an app called Foodfully where you can be reminded of when your food is close to expiration. Alternatively, if you want to save some extra cash, then download a app called pareup where you can stay updated on where to buy fruits and vegetables that are close to their ‘expiration’ date, at a discounted price!

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FoodFully, an app that seamlessly integrates food purchases and provides spoilage notifications so you remember to eat food before it happens!

Waste no time in reducing food waste

It’s clear that everyone has a part to play, right from the beginning of the supply chain – with the farmers – to the end – with the consumers. There are so many simple steps that can be taken to reduce food waste almost instantaneously. And not only does it save you money, it impacts food security and the environment as well. With the myriad of technological innovations that can simplify the process, there’s no better time than now to begin!

This article is part of our monthly series of insights to help business leaders discover business value through a social and environmental purpose.

Download our latest 15-page report on FOOD in Asia.

View our 2-min visual on FOOD in Asia.

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