Towards Zero Food Waste
Being a purpose-driven bank
As a purpose-driven bank, DBS seeks to create value for the long term by managing our business and working with our stakeholders in a balanced and responsible way. We believe that we need to change the way we view consumption and production to do more, and better, with less. With this as our mission, DBS kickstarted a bank-wide Zero Food Waste (ZFW) initiative in 2020.
Our approach to the ZFW initiative aligns with DBS' three sustainability pillars, Responsible Banking, Responsible Business Practices, and Creating Social Impact, whereby we aim to encourage a shift in behaviours and mindsets to reduce food waste by 1) advocating and building public awareness of the issue; 2) engaging employees and reducing food waste in our business operations; and 3) partnering ecosystem partners to scale impact.
Building a food secure future
A third of the world's food is lost or wasted each year. This is enough to feed three billion people – which is twice the size of China and more than three times the number of hungry people in the world. Yet, one in nine people still go hungry today.
From an environmental perspective, food wastage amounts to almost a tenth of global greenhouse gas emissions, making it the third largest emitting ‘country’ in the world behind China and the US, or almost equivalent to global road transport emissions.
As the world’s population expands and environmental pressures increase, the global food waste crisis becomes more dire day by day, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Supply chains have been upended; farmers are unable to sell or transport their fresh produce, or even harvest them. Massive amounts of food end up dumped at the production level. At the same time, up to 265 million people around the world are suffering from food insecurity and face possible starvation.
At DBS, we are committed in our push towards zero food waste, to build a more sustainable future for our children and the generations to come. Together, we can all play our part.
Supporting hard-hit communities
For segments of communities across the region, their livelihoods have been adversely impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak and they are going hungry. To help address some of the enormous needs that have arisen, DBS, in April 2020, launched the DBS Stronger Together Fund. It is an SGD 10.5 million fund to provide 4.5 million meals and other medical necessities to communities across the region that have been hard hit by the pandemic.
Find out more here.
What we’re doing
We have taken steps to reduce food waste within the bank and at our events. For instance, we reduced the amount of food catered by 20% for the 2020 DBS SpringFest celebration in Singapore, and good quality unserved food was later redistributed to more than 100 foreign workers.
In India, we started tracking food waste in our cafeteria since May 2019 and have seen a near 30% reduction in compost waste collected.
We work with community partners across the region to redistribute food to those in need.
In Hong Kong, for instance, DBS has partnered with local charity Foodlink Foundation in 2020 to help ensure surplus food reaches the underprivileged in the community instead of the landfill. DBS Hong Kong is sponsoring a new refrigerated van that will be used by Foodlink Foundation to help collect safe-to-eat surplus food from F&B outlets all over the city and deliver it to the underprivileged. This initiative has rescued over 60,000kg of surplus food since it started.
In Taiwan, we donated NT$3 million, through contributions from both staff and bank customers, to support the elderly and underprivileged families who were most affected by the pandemic. Through this, over 17,000kg of food packs which included surplus foods was purchased from SEs and redistributed to support the community.
Since 2018, we have been composting our cafeteria waste. In 2019, DBS’ kitchen in Singapore diverted more than 3 tonnes of organic waste to our own composter, creating 1977kg of compost. We also teamed up with social enterprises Bettr Barista and Edible Garden City in 2019 to tackle the issue of coffee waste at the Singapore Fintech Festival. Close to 100kg of used coffee grounds was collected from the bank’s booth and across the three SFF cafes to be composted and used as fertiliser for our upcoming edible garden at DBS Asia Hub.
Used coffee grounds from DBS Hong Kong’s premises have been recycled through a “Zero Grounds Coffee Campaign” by Eco-Greenergy, a DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant Awardee that turns coffee grounds into innovative products such as soap, compost and flower pots. Since the campaign launch in August 2019, 2.9 tonnes of coffee grounds have been recycled.
Awards and recognition
DBS is honoured to receive the President’s Award for the Environment 2021. It’s Singapore’s highest environmental accolade, and recognises our efforts to promote zero food waste, as well as our leadership in sustainable finance and responsible business practices.
We are also proud to share that DBS’ Towards Zero Food Waste initiative has been recognised on a global stage, taking home a ‘Highly Commended’ award in the Purpose-Driven Communications category at Reuters Events’ Responsible Business Awards 2021. Formerly known as the Ethical Corporation Responsible Business Awards, this prestigious global awards programme, now in its 13th year, honours corporate leadership in sustainable business.
Working with partners
- Social Enterprises
In 2020, DBS Foundation, which was established to champion social entrepreneurship in Asia, gave out SGD 1.4M to 13 social enterprises (SEs) across the region as part of its annual Social Enterprise Grant Programme. Five of the awarded SEs operate in the zero food waste space, and have technology, applications and innovative products that reduce food loss along the supply chain as well as those that manage surplus food or upcycle food waste to value added products.
Here’re some social enterprises we support:
Cha Tzu Tang (Taiwan)
S4S Technologies (India)
Rooftop Republic (Hong Kong)
Eco-Greenergy (Hong Kong)
Pandawa Agri Indonesia (Indonesia)
Edible Garden City (Singapore)
Pure Milk (Taiwan)
Buy Directly From Farmers (Taiwan)
We also partner with various social enterprises working to reduce food loss and food waste across Asia.
In China and Taiwan, for instance, we worked with social enterprises to reduce food loss in farms due to transport and export constraints during the Covid-19 outbreak. As of April 2020, over 2,500kg of oranges have been rescued and sold through a BUY4GOOD programme in China.
In India, we have embarked on a partnership with an SE S4S, a food preservation company that invents new food processing machines, to support the setup of 12 dehydrating units to be run by women microentrepreneurs. Through this partnership, roughly 200,000kg of blemished and cosmetically filtered food is expected to be processed, whilst also generating additional income for the women and their families.
In Singapore, we supported the National Parks Board’s Gardening with Edibles programme as a founding partner, to encourage more Singaporeans to be engaged with nature and to build social bonds while greening the nation. The Gardening with Edibles initiative, distributes free packets of leafy and fruited vegetable seeds to interested members of public.
DBS is also the first bank to become a collaborating partner in NEA’s Say Yes to Waste Less campaign, which aligns with the bank’s sustainability agenda and advocacy efforts to encourage the public and businesses to Live more, Waste less. As part of the campaign in 2020, we partnered restaurant-reservation booking platform Chope to launch DBS-Chope Last Hour Deals, where diners get a discount when they eat at participating F&B outlets in the final hours before closing to collectively reduce food waste.
In 2021, we partnered food delivery platform WhyQ to give patrons a discount for ordering their meals at the last-hour of mealtimes. The deal not only helps reduce food waste for environmental impact, it also helps hawkers cut costs and boost earnings by helping them clear their unused ingredients for orders. This is also part of DBS’ push to support hawkers affected by the effects of the pandemic.
In 2022, DBS helped consumers embark on their zero food waste journey with social enterprise Just Dabao, which sells surplus food from restaurants and bakeries for a discount to consumers, with additional discounts when they checkout with DBS cards.
In China, DBS is partnering with dianping, one of the largest dining reservations app in China, to launch a “clean up your plate” campaign, with nearly 30 restaurants participating to encourage diners to reduce food waste by cleaning up their plate.
While in India, we have also partnered with the Akshaya Patra Foundation – which runs the world’s largest school lunch programme to end child classroom hunger – in a campaign to provide more meals for children. We are also working with partners across the food and agriculture sector to help create more efficient supply chains and reduce food loss and waste.
We’ve partnered Mediacorp, Singapore’s national media network, as one of the main sponsors of MasterChef Singapore Season 2 and Season 3. The reality TV series follows home cooks compete for the most coveted culinary title amongst amateur chefs. Through our sponsorship, DBS leverages the ever-popular series to spotlight how food waste can be reduced in the kitchen, so that each individual may make an impact on our environment and strive to be the best we can be for a better world.
With Mediacorp’s CNA Insider, we created Food, Wasted, to look at some of the innovative solutions being developed to address the food loss and waste happening along the entire food supply chain.
A three-part series on preventing wastage in every step of the supply chain.
Live more, Waste less: Why Are We Throwing Away Perfectly Edible Food? | Food, Wasted 1/3
Every day, perfectly edible food is thrown away by the tonnes for not meeting beauty standards, amongst other reasons. This wastage occurs even before the food reaches our dinner tables, and is fueled by consumer choices and preferences.
Social enterprises like Treedots and Treatsure, both supported by DBS Foundation, are doing their part to reduce food waste by seeking out businesses and consumers willing to buy ‘ugly’ or surplus food.
The first episode of Food, Wasted, a documentary series produced by CNA in partnership with DBS, explores the reasons why food waste occurs, what some businesses are doing to tackle this issue, and how you can be a part of the solution.
Live more, Waste less: Why So Much Food Is Lost In The Supply Chain | Food, Wasted 2/3
Up to a whopping 40% of food gets lost along the supply chain post-harvest, during handling, storage and transportation - never making it to the shops at all.
In Indonesia, the amount of fruits and vegetables that gets damaged after harvesting goes up to 50%. Poor handling, long travel distances in bad weather, and bad storage practices are the main contributers to the huge losses.
Social enterprises like S4S technologies, which is supported by the DBS Foundation, have set out to prevent food loss with solar conduction dryers that take out the moisture from perishable food and extends their shelf life. But what other innovative technologies can we rely on to reduce spoilage?
In the second episode of Food, Wasted, CNA and DBS explores what other solutions there are to prevent wastage in every step of the supply chain, and what can we, as consumers, do to help.
Live more, Waste less: Can Urban Farming Fix Our Broken Relationship With Food? | Food, Wasted 3/3
Consumers now are spoiled for choice with supermarkets and grocery delivery apps growing in popularity and abundance. With a few taps on the phone, fresh vegetables and fruits can be delivered to one's door in mere hours.
On the flip side, it makes us completely removed from the food growing process and unaware of how much energy and resources it takes to grow, harvest and transport produce so that it makes it to our dinner tables.
Some groups are looking to urban farming to rebuild our relationships with food. Rooftop Republic in Hong Kong transforms empty spaces on top of office buildings to farms well-stocked with chillies and eggplants.
In Singapore, Edible Garden City uses urban spaces to grow produce for consumption. Both social enterprises work with DBS Foundation to champion the Grow Your Own Food movement.
The third episode of Food, Wasted, produced by CNA in partnership with DBS, looks at how these social enterprises and some home farmers are taking matters into their own hands (literally) to tackle food waste.
We’ve also partnered The Straits Times, the English flagship daily of Singapore Press Holdings and national broadsheet, to run several series to raise greater awareness around food waste and eating sustainably, so everyone can play their part in tackling this crucial issue. We explore pertinent issues and investigate challenges in the areas of food loss and waste, as well as innovative solutions. We also offer practical tips on how households can take steps to reduce their food waste.
A four-part series on eating more sustainably.
A six-part series delving into the growing food waste problem in Singapore.
Calls to change eating habits and overhaul food supply chain to cut Singapore's food waste
Along with the race to ramp up local food production aggressively amid battling the Covid-19 pandemic comes another tough nut to crack: the massive amount of food waste generated by the Republic every year.
Scaling towards zero food waste in fish farming
Food waste is one of the biggest waste streams in Singapore, and 40% is generated by the commercial and industrial sectors that handle fish, other seafood and vegetables.
The beauty of ugly food
Fruit and vegetables top the list of food waste in Singapore, making up almost half of that generated by the commercial and industrial sectors that handle fish, other seafood and fruit and vegetables.
Unsold but not unwanted food
Close to 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted every year, even as more than 800 million people worldwide go to bed hungry every night.Learn More
How two Singapore homes turned minimising food waste into a habit
More than 26,000 tonnes of unconsumed food worth $342 million are thrown away by households every year because the food wasn't stored or handled properly, or was bought without thinking.
Turning Singapore's trash to treasure
The amount of food waste generated in Singapore has risen by about 20% over the past 10 years and is expected to increase with the growing population and economic activity. Yet only 18% of the total food waste was recycled last year, according to the NEA.Learn More
Click below for a look at our past issues.
The bank also commissioned its own award-winning mini-series Sparks, inspired by true stories of social enterprises, to help raise awareness and galvanise action from the public on an array of sustainability topics, including food waste management, upcycling and reducing plastic pollution. Watch this episode dedicated to raising awareness on food waste.
Food waste: should we really be concerned? How much do you know about it? Take this quiz and test your knowledge!
Learn more about food waste
Check out our articles and videos for more information and tips to help you reduce food waste.
How to start growing your own edibles
As interest in urban farming and edible gardens grow, National Parks Board (NParks) has launched the Gardening with Edibles initiative — jointly supported by founding partners DBS Bank and Tote Board through the Garden City Fund — as part of a larger effort to strengthen community well-being.
Do you have too many food items falling out from your fridge and kitchen cupboards from overbuying during the circuit breaker period?
Waste not, want not: how to reduce food waste
Ms Yap, who is studying urban agriculture at Republic Polytechnic, first took up the part-time job in a cafe as a service crew member in 2015. The amount of food tossed away during the preparation process and discarded at the end of each day disturbed her.
5 tips on reducing food waste
The Sunday Times speaks to a housewife, a restaurant owner, a hawker chef and two environmental educators.
The next chapter of our food story
A pandemic may have thrown global food supply chains into disarray, but new and innovative methods are reshaping food systems, from farm to fork.
Reduce your food waste footprint
For many of us, our relationship with food has probably changed quite a bit during this pandemic. Perhaps you have picked up cooking as you stay home to stay safe. With little experience with preparing your own meals, the inexperienced cooks among us might have ended up overbuying, overestimating the amount needed to prepare a dish or preparing more food than can be finished.
These Singaporeans are growing their own crops as an additional source of fresh produce
During the circuit breaker period, music teacher Sylvia Chua has been supplementing her meals with crops she cultivates in the community garden near her home in Marine Parade.
Rescuing livelihoods and feeding the community
Once a bustling hotspot for people to gather and enjoy meals, many coffee shops are now quiet and empty. The Covid-19 pandemic has left stall owners worrying over how to pay for their rent, utility, food ingredients and manpower as they see fewer customers.
Get ready to broc & roll: this easy pasta dish uses the whole broccoli
For home chefs looking for new and easy dishes to whip up, this broccoli and mushroom pasta dish makes for a scrumptious meal for the whole family. Better yet, it makes use of the whole broccoli, so you don’t have to throw the stems away.
Changing food habits amid Covid-19
Since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, restrictions on dining in at restaurants and shortages in ingredients have changed many young Singaporeans' relationship with food. Some, having no prior experience with cooking, have dipped their toes into the world of culinary arts, while others have taken the chance to change their dietary habits.
How food waste can be reduced at restaurants, food courts and coffee shops
Food and beverage businesses are trying to survive in a challenging climate. As they face a sharp decline in demand, they are also dealing with a disrupted food supply system.
How to minimise food loss during storage and transportation
While the Covid-19 pandemic has cast a spotlight on the massive amounts of food that have gone to waste globally, farms, importers, distributors and retailers have been coming up with ways to reduce food loss even before the outbreak. Here’s a look at how food is lost during storage and transportation, and how some businesses are tackling this.
Rescuing food from going to waste
Chinese New Year is usually the best sales season for premium blood oranges from Hubei province. Considered one of the tastiest mandarin oranges in China and viewed as lucky due to its red pulp, the fruit is harvested between December and March every year.
But a lockdown of the Chinese province on Jan 23 threw things into disarray. A staggering 4,500 tonnes of oranges — enough to fill 170 shipping containers — were left unsold in Hubei’s Enshi City, an area known for growing this variety of the citrus fruit.
Whip up a tasty meal with what you have
Instead of running to the supermarket for more ingredients to whip up something, try making do.
Try scavenging in your freezer or larder, as if you are on a food rescue mission, and see what you come up with.
A community coming together
Seventy-two-year-old plumber Yee Sheng Kheong has seen the number of customers dwindle since social distancing measures were implemented in February to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
“I used to go out and work every day when I get calls for plumbing jobs, but now I don’t go out of the house anymore, which means I’m not earning,” says the sole breadwinner.
How food is lost and saved from farm to market
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations estimates that about a third of the food the world produces annually is lost or wasted before it reaches the market, due to problems ranging from the lack of proper post-harvest storage, processing or transportation facilities.
The unfolding Covid-19 pandemic and measures to curb the spread of the virus have exacerbated the food waste problem in many parts of the world. Labour shortages and logistic bottlenecks resulting from border closures, lockdowns and trade disruptions have disrupted the harvesting, processing and transportation of food supplies. The crisis has thrown into sharp relief the need to rethink existing farming and food systems.
Cabbage is green in more ways than one
How do you reduce food wastage at home?
Start by taking stock of what is in your fridge, especially the vegetables as they are highly perishable.
5 things you can do to boost Singapore's collective food security
The Covid-19 pandemic has cast a spotlight on the issue of food security worldwide, including Singapore. An important step to boosting Singapore’s resilience against any supply shocks is reducing food wastage. Here’s what you can do to help boost Singapore’s food security.
Where our food comes from
Singapore has over the years taken steps to boost its food security. It has worked with nations around the world to diversify its food import sources, maintain a national stockpile, and is continuously looking to technology and research to boost local production.
Today, its food imports come from more than 170 countries and regions. Here’s a look at where some of Singapore’s food is imported from.
#SGFOODSECURE: A recipe for food security
The Covid-19 pandemic has cast a spotlight on the issue of food security worldwide, including Singapore.
Thanks to various strategies put in place over the years, our city state is the world’s most food secure nation, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's Global Food Security Index 2019. Nonetheless, Singapore, which imports more than 90 per cent of its food, remains susceptible to factors that threaten global agricultural production.
From farm to table
Crushed egg shells, used coffee grounds and spoilt uncooked vegetables - such ingredients are repurposed as compost for the crops grown at One Farrer Hotel's rooftop farm.
This "self-contained system" makes effective use of what is usually discarded as food waste.
TreeDots: turning food waste into opportunity
With the amount of food wastage almost doubling over the last 10 years in Singapore, it's time for serious intervention.
TreeDots aims to reduce food wastage by creating a platform to link businesses with unsold inventory to potential buyers and prevent perfectly edible food from ending up in the bin.
This social enterprise wants to ensure the fish we eat doesn’t cost our environment
What is the true cost of that fish on your plate?
When fish farms are not sustainable – a host of environmental challenges ensue. Pesticides and antibiotics used might end up released into the environment; large amounts of fish waste can pollute and deplete oxygen from the water; coastal habitats might be destroyed to build these farms.
UglyFood: transforming imperfection into wholesomeness
Have you heard of "cosmetic filtering"?
You may have been guilty of it in the past, when you chose a bunch of kai Ian over another just because it looked prettier or greener, or perhaps it had less "holes". Almost all of us have done so, at some point.
The battle of the food waste bulge — why you should throw away less food
With Singapore having declared 2019 as the Year Towards Zero Waste, TODAY’s new four-part Trash Talk series examines the issue of waste management and how Singaporeans can do our part to reduce waste. In the final instalment, we look at the burgeoning problem of food waste here, and the innovative ways to tackle it.