Innovation Challenges

Challenge Owner(s)
Lendlease Global Commercial REIT, CapitaLand Group, JTC Corporation, Changi Airport Group (CAG)
Enterprise Singapore, IPI Singapore, National Environment Agency (NEA)
Industry Type(s)
Environmental Services, Food Services, National Innovation Challenges
Opportunities and Support Up to S$2,000,000 in co-funding grant support from prototype, deployment to adoption.
Application Start Date 7 December 2020
Application End Date 5 March 2021
Website Click here to learn more

About Challenge

Access to clean air, clean water, power, and sanitation are challenges faced in many countries. Low-lying coastal communities such as Singapore are also more vulnerable to rising sea levels due to climate change. Globally, individuals, public agencies and companies – small and large – will need to work together to develop solutions for sustainable development.

Following the success of the first call, Enterprise Singapore is launching the second Sustainability Open Innovation Challenge this year, bringing together government agencies, industry partners and innovators to develop more innovative sustainability solutions in Singapore – for the world. This call leverages Singapore’s commitment to develop new technologies or solutions for key sustainability areas such as Green Packaging, Green Transport, Renewable Energy, Resource Efficiency and Waste Reduction.

We are inviting innovative companies to join the challenge. Challenge statement owners will provide user requirements, opportunities for test-bedding, and may potentially be your first customer. 

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Challenge Owner(s)Changi Airport Group (CAG)
Industry Types(s)
Air Transport, Environmental Services, National Innovation Challenges, Retail

Changi Airport Group (CAG)

In 2019, the four terminals of Changi Airport generated over 14,000 tonnes of general waste of which 30% is estimated to be food waste from F&B and lounge operators. Having introduced several food waste digesters and worked with few key operators, the airport only managed to divert and process 300 tonnes per year through the digesters. The amount of food waste remains high.

There are a few reasons:

  • Users are generally not conversant in waste differentiation and segregation. Cleaners and F&B staff performing waste disposal cannot differentiate organics from inorganics or whether the waste is digestible. Thus, food waste sent to digesters are often contaminated with non-food waste resulting in hastened wear and tear and reduced system efficiency. The use of single-use disposables by some operators aggravated this problem and there appears no impetus for them to switch to reusable cutlery.
  • Reluctance of F&B operators and cleaners to segregate food waste. F&B operators generally suffer from manpower crunch and resist the call to perform waste segregation. While good design of food preparation and dish collection areas may provide a conducive environment for waste segregation, staff are still fixated on existing work procedures and neglect waste segregation. CAG has tried to provide monetary incentives in the past to encourage waste segregation but does not view such incentive programmes viable in the long term.
  • A menial and laborious task in food waste segregation and handling. Even if operators agree to food waste segregation, the task is usually tedious and lacks synergy with the overall F&B/back of house operations. The staff performing waste segregation will need to use different waste receptacles for different waste types. They are required to sieve off excess liquid from the food waste and may have to transfer it to an offload site that is different from general waste. Furthermore, the receptacle used for food waste is usually not lined with plastic, necessitating additional to wash the food waste receptacles to maintain good hygiene. All these add to the hassle and are obstacles to effective waste segregation.

The proposed solutions whether through behavioural design, mechanical installation, automation or digital nature should possess these features or drive towards these outcomes:

  • Improve the efficacy of segregation such that contamination to food waste is minimised, free from inorganics and non-biodegradables.
  • Appeal or entice to staff/cleaners to perform food waste segregation. Staff should be able to perform waste segregation productively and not cumber on their other duties.
  • Improve the hygiene or efficiency of food waste segregation. This could be through automation, mechanical processing or conveyance technologies where the required intervention by users is minimal.
  • Attached pictures (See attachment) of the different channels in which food waste can be generated and consolidated at a commercial premises. The proposed solution may aim to target one or all these channels. The solution may also be conceptual, one that requires alteration to infrastructure or customisation to fit the different channels. The solution need not necessarily target staff/cleaners performing waste segregation, it may also be tailored for food suppliers, kitchen staff or diners/consumers.


What We Are Looking For

  • The solution adopter should be able to reduce or maintain the staff strength needed for this task i.e. no additional manpower needed by F&B operators to undertake food waste segregation. The solution cost should be minimal, on leasing, recurring or instalment basis.
  • Changi Airport will work with the solution provider to pilot it at one of its terminal buildings. If intended outcomes are achieved, Changi Airport will extend the solution to other terminals. There are also opportunities for other large hotels, malls and F&B operators to adopt such solutions.

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Challenge Owner(s)CapitaLand Group
Industry Types(s)
Environmental Services, National Innovation Challenges, Retail

About a third of the general waste disposed in existing shopping malls is food waste, amounting to about a tonne of food waste disposed per day per mall. This is largely an untapped resource that CapitaLand seeks to harness for circularity.

While there are existing on-site solutions that can recycle food waste, mall operators face challenges in integrating such solutions into their existing waste management practices.

Food waste needs to be relatively free from non-organic waste (e.g. plastic containers, metal spoons) before it can be recycled into high quality compost/liquid nutrients using on-site food waste digesters. Additionally, while end products like compost and liquid nutrients support the concept of circularity, they have limited applications within a shopping mall.

The bin centres in existing shopping malls, which already house compactors, also do not have space to accommodate food waste digesters. A compactor typically occupies more than 80% of the bin centre space, while existing food waste digesters available on the market are about the size of one compactor. It is costly to redesign the existing bin centres to accommodate a food waste digester. Downsizing the compactor may lead to insufficient capacity to handle waste generated. Placing a food waste digester at a location other than the bin centre makes it inconvenient for waste disposal and may create additional pest and odour management issues.

Furthermore, waste generation varies over time. As building occupants and users adopt better eco-habits of reducing food waste, there could be a situation where the original food waste digester becomes oversized after a few years.

CapitaLand seeks a solution that can help us recycle food waste within the small bin centre in existing shopping malls, while supporting the concept of circularity.

The proposed solution shall address the following:

  • New opportunities for circularity: generate preferably new high-value output to be used in our shopping malls, offices, industrial and lodging properties.
  • Issues with high contamination: either cope with more than 10% of non-food waste in segregated food waste or reduce the contamination in segregated waste.
  • Small installation footprint: be suitable for installation within limited space in bin centre.
  • Resource reduction: achieve measurable reduction in carbon emissions and waste volume.
  • Modular: cope with changes in food waste volume over time.
  • Holistic solution for waste management: do not compromise the reliability of existing waste collection and disposal (i.e. should not increase risk of overflowing waste, smell and pest issues).
  • Cost efficient: has strong financial benefits relative to its cost.

What We Are Looking For

  • Cost recovery must make sense, preferably less than 3 years.
  • CapitaLand will provide test-bedding site for pilot deployment. There is possibility of scaling up to other CapitaLand properties upon successful trial. The solution is also applicable for other existing properties with limited bin centre space. 

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Challenge Owner(s)Lendlease Global Commercial REIT
Industry Types(s)
Environmental Services, National Innovation Challenges, Retail

Lendlease has set an annual food recycling target of 30% for all premises. All of Lendlease’s assets have food waste digesters except for 313@Somerset. In 2013, Lendlease installed its first two-ton food waste digester in one of its malls, JEM. Food waste digesters at the other malls were installed over the past two to three years.

Despite the good intent of investing in food waste digesters as part of Lendlease’ recycling effort, these systems are unable to handle non-food waste. Due to improper/poor segregation of food waste, the food waste digesters broke down frequently, leading to operational inconvenience. At times, it would take up to a week to be repaired, which caused operational challenges (i.e. diversion of food waste to waste compactor, resulting in increased frequency of compactor removal which affects the delivery schedule of goods) as well as affected the food waste recycling target.

The food waste from our tenants mainly consist of leftover food waste, kitchen food waste, and expired and non-fresh food waste from supermarkets. However, as the food waste is often contaminated with items such as tins, utensils, tissue papers, plastic containers or wrappers, it requires tremendous effort to sort out these “impurities” manually. If the manual sorting process missed a metal or hard object, it would cause the food waste digesters to break down.

This is despite Lendlease’s continuous effort to raise awareness among its tenants. The following initiatives were implemented across the 3 malls with the food waste digesters:

  • Educate our tenants to properly segregate their food waste at source. However, as there is a high turnover rate of tenants, frequent retraining of personnel is required to ensure continuity.
  • One full-time manpower is required to be stationed in front of the system to manually separate the food waste and non-food waste. However, as such job is performed in a “smelly” environment and is deemed to be labour intensive, we experienced difficulties in hiring manpower to perform this job. It is also costly to hire manpower for such a laborious job.

In addition, as the current food waste digester system occupies a large space, it is difficult for other existing premises to accommodate the existing or one with larger capacity, as well as a sorting area for manual separation of food waste. As such, this limits the amount of food waste that can be recycled. For example, in JEM, the total available space for the manual sorting area and the food waste digestor is 11 m (L) x 7 m (W). Due to the limited space available, it can only accommodate a two-tonne food waste digester which occupies 9 m (L) x 6 m (W), although JEM generates more than two-tonne of food waste. Thus, if a higher capacity food waste recycling machine can be installed in JEM using the same available space, more tenants can participate in the food waste recycling programme, which would improve our food waste recycling rate.

The system that Lendlease had installed currently does not produce output such as composter/soil conditioner. Lendlease would be interested if the output generated by the proposed solution is of high value which can used in the malls.

The proposed solution (A) shall address the following:

  • Engagement of stakeholders (tenants, cleaning staff and/or patrons) must be self-sustainable in the long term.
  • Measure stakeholders’ efforts in proper source segregation of food waste, with proposed targeted efforts to engage specific stakeholders who do not properly source segregate.
  • Eliminate downstream manpower reliance in the segregation and transfer of food waste to the food waste recycling machine.
  • The equipment (if any) should be able to fit within the available space in the bin centre.

The proposed solution (B) shall address the following:

  • Handle high tolerance of food waste contaminants to minimise breaking down of the system due to contamination.
  • Solution should be able to handle more than two tonnes of food waste per day, within a dimension of 11 m (L) x 7 m (W) and able to fit within the available space in the bin centre.
  • Output of the system should be of use to the malls.

JEM will be the allocated test-bedding site of the solution for the pilot deployment.

What We Are Looking For

Lendlease Retail is seeking solution(s) to:

  • Encourage, facilitate and/or track source segregation of food waste by various stakeholders (tenants, cleaning staff and/or patrons), to reduce the reliance on downstream manpower to segregate and transfer food waste into food waste recycling machine.
  • Have an on-site food waste treatment solution that can recycle food waste with high tolerance of contamination within a small bin centre in existing malls, as well as have output that can be of use to the mall.

Return on Investment will probably be a better indicator. If the system can payback (by reducing the cost for incineration) at approximately two years, it will be considered a good investment for the developers.

This can be achieved by either reducing the cost of the system or increasing the capacity of the system. Nonetheless, it will be ideal if the cost does not exceed S$300,000.

There is possibility of scaling up to other Lendlease properties upon successful trial. The solution is also applicable for other existing properties with similar challenges in food waste segregation efforts and limited bin centre space. Results from the deployment of the solution will also be shared with our overseas premises, for their consideration to adopt.

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Challenge Owner(s)National Environment Agency (NEA)
Industry Types(s)
Environmental Services, National Innovation Challenges, Retail

National Environment Agency (NEA)

Food waste is one of the largest waste streams in Singapore, with a high generation rate and a low recycling rate. In 2019, food waste made up one-fifth of the total amount of waste generated in Singapore, but only 18% of it was recycled.

Making it easier to segregate food waste for treatment and tracking the amount of segregated food waste are key steps to reducing the amount of food waste generated and promoting its treatment. Under the Resource Sustainability Act (RSA), large food waste generators including large hotels and malls, and large industrial developments housing food manufacturers or food caterers will be required to segregate their food waste for treatment from 2024/2025. However, implementation of food waste segregation initiatives for recycling in commercial (e.g. shopping malls) premises can be time-, space- and manpower-consuming, thus posing several challenges to effective food waste segregation:

  • With continual pressure to be productive, there may be difficulties in adhering to this new regulation at the industry level. At the premise level, stakeholders such as tenants, cleaning staff and patrons do not have the habit or adequate knowledge of segregating food waste, which may result in low participation rates and/or high contamination of food waste. High contamination rates can lead to food waste treatment systems breaking down more frequently, thus requiring more manpower to fix the system. Common food waste contaminants include metal utensils or tins, hardy food waste (e.g. durian husk, seafood shells, bigger bones), greasy food waste, non-food waste (e.g. tissue paper, disposable utensils, containers and wrappers), etc.
  • While food waste tracking solutions are available, the adoption rate is extremely low in the market today due to a high operating cost structure. As such, it is challenging for individual food tenants to implement, despite bringing about potential cost savings from reduced purchase costs and more efficient inventory management. This lack of food waste data by the premises makes it difficult for premises owners/landlords to track tenants’ food waste segregation efforts, resulting in non-targeted and less effective outreach efforts in encouraging food waste segregation among tenants.
  • Commercial premises have limited space to install food waste recycling machines.

On-site food waste treatment systems close the food waste loop by recycling food waste while minimising the financial and environmental costs of transportation. Under the Resource Sustainability Act (RSA), large food waste generators will be required to implement on-site food waste treatment in stages from 2024/2025. However, commercial premises face several challenges in implementing on-site food waste treatment systems, such as:

  • Existing on-site food waste treatment systems are sensitive to contamination, thus requiring regular maintenance and repair.
  • Premises have limited space available to house such bulky equipment.
  • The output from current on-site food waste treatment solutions (e.g. compost or non-potable water) may not be used within the premises and require the sourcing of off-takers in order to close the waste loop.
  • On-site treatment systems may be located near work and living environments, therefore disamenities such as odour, noise and air pollution would need to be minimised

Challenge Statement

Problem solvers are invited to propose solutions for (A) and/or (B) requirements. Proposed solution(s) that could address (A) and (B) requirements will be preferred, with possible tracking of the amount of segregated food waste generated by the tenants and fed into the food waste treatment system vs. the eventual amount of output from the system.

For (A), the proposed solution(s) should aim to improve source segregation and tracking of segregated food waste for treatment, which can include behavioural design, automation, digital solutions, mechanical processing or conveyance technologies, with the following features:

  • Encourage an efficient and sustainable food waste segregation at source for tenants, cleaning staff and/or patrons
  • Require minimal manual intervention by users
  • Enable accurate tracking and measurement of segregated food waste (between organic and inorganic)  generated by tenants within premises
  • Demonstrate cost effectiveness and manpower productivity improvement compared to the current processes

For (B), the proposed solution(s) should aim to develop a compact and robust on-site food waste treatment system with the following features:

  • Improved specifications compared to existing solutions, which can be a higher tolerance for contamination, improved capacity vs space-/time-ratio (existing one-tonne treatment systems take up about 28sqm and treat waste in 24 hours), output that is of value and can be used by commercial premises, or higher food waste conversion rate, etc.

Any proposed equipment for (A) and/or (B) should:

  • Either be able to fit within limited space constraints of tenanted spaces or be easily integrated within existing premises
  • Cause minimal/no nuisance and disruptions to existing operations
  • Have minimal/no alternations to existing infrastructure
  • Comply with the prevailing Codes and regulations for electrical equipment and be sealed effectively from its operating environment with IP65 or higher
  • Not cause any public health issues and comply with the Environmental Public Health Act (EPHA) and its relevant Subsidiary legislation
  • Comply with the Environmental Protection and Management Act (EPMA) and necessary building regulation requirements
The respective problem statements by the 3 demand drivers (CapitaLand, Changi Airport Group and Lendlease) for this call can be found at the problem statement section below.

What We Are Looking For

Improved source segregation of food waste by stakeholders (tenants, cleaning staff and/or patrons)

  • Change stakeholder behaviour to source-segregate their food waste
  • Reduce/eliminate downstream manpower reliance in the segregation and transfer of food waste to the food waste treatment system

To accurately track and measure the amount of segregated food waste generated by tenants (between organic and inorganic) within premises

A robust on-site food waste treatment system that optimises use of limited space and generates useful output for commercial premises

  • Include a compact system that can recycle a higher volume of food waste
  • Be able to recycle mixed food waste with higher tolerance for contamination
  • Ensure output can be used at commercial premises
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