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NEA calls for tender for food waste conveyance system at Tampines hawker centre

THE National Environment Agency (NEA) is calling for tenders for the installation and maintenance of an automated food waste conveyance system at one of Singapore's seven social enterprise hawker centres - Our Tampines Hub (OTH) Hawker Centre.

The tender is expected to be awarded by the second quarter of 2019, with the system to be operationally ready by the end of the year. 

In a press statement on Thursday, NEA said it is exploring technologies to facilitate food waste segregation at hawker centres, and intends to introduce a food waste conveyance system at the OTH Hawker Centre.

The food waste will be ground and conveyed from each of the 42 stalls at the hawker centre, and the two tray-return stations, directly to the food waste treatment system in a closed system, NEA said. 

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It added that the winning bidder will be required to install the system in phases, maintain it, monitor its utilisation, and train stakeholders including stallholders and table cleaners to use the system.

The pilot project is intended to complement the current food wastage reduction and recycling efforts at OTH Hawker Centre, and demonstrate how automation can be incorporated into the food waste collection system to improve productivity, the national agency said. 

Currently, stallholders segregate the food waste, and deposit it into the covered bins provided to each stall. They then transfer the food waste into large waste bins located at the tray return stations. Likewise, table cleaners separate the leftover food on dishes at the tray return points, or during table-cleaning operations, and deposit it into the large waste bins.

When these waste bins are full, the cleaners wheel them to the food waste recycling room located in the basement of the hawker centre. The food waste is then converted into non-drinkable water, a liquid nutrient and organic fertiliser, NEA said. 

With the proposed automation, stallholders and cleaners will no longer have to manually transport food waste to the waste bins, or "the digester". The greater convenience is expected to boost the food waste recycling rate at the OTH Hawker Centre, with the closed system of handling food waste to reduce smells that may arise from the collection and transportation of food waste, NEA said. 

NEA also noted that the project is in line with Singapore's vision of a Zero Waste Nation, and its aim to reach an overall recycling rate of 70 per cent by 2030. The agency spearheads environmental initiatives, and is a public organisation responsible for improving and sustaining a clean and green environment in Singapore.