Turning food waste to water

Innovative recycling initiative uses microbes to break down food waste to water.

With millions of travellers passing through Changi Airport every year, just imagine the number of meals that are consumed here every day. Along with these meals come the inevitable leftovers. At Changi Airport, this food waste can be reduced to water, thanks to an innovative recycling initiative!

In July 2015, Changi Airport launched an initiative to reduce food waste. Starting with two tenants - Kopitiam and NTUC Fairprice - the initiative saw food waste being put through a digester in which microbes were used to break down the food waste into water.

Here’s how it works - these micro organisms simply ‘eat up’ the food waste fed to them, and produce water as a by-product at the end of the process. A half-tonne digester can ‘eat’ over 20kg of food waste an hour, while a bigger one-tonne machine can digest double the amount.   

Over a 10-month trial period, more than 54,000kg of food waste was digested, effectively reducing the waste to be sent for incineration. That is about the weight of one and a half A320 planes!

Other food operators soon caught wind of this awesome initiative and were keen to join, including Ramen Champion, Aoy’s Thai noodle bar, Pastamania and Curry Times, the F&B outlets at T3’s Basement 2.  A larger machine with double the capacity was installed in mid-July 2016 to accommodate this greater volume of food waste.  In the two months that followed, more than 32,000 kg of food waste was processed through the digester.  Another food digester has also just been introduced at the new T2 staff canteen.  These help Changi to become an even more environmentally-friendly airport, one meal at a time.

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