AsianScientist (Feb. 25, 2020) – “Out of sight, out of mind” is an apt description of how society tends to regard waste. Once an item is thrown into a rubbish bin, it is easy to ignore where it goes and the impact that it has on the environment. While some discarded items degrade naturally, plastics are notorious for their persistence, and their widespread use means that they have accumulated to unprecedented levels in landfills, waste heaps and oceans.
In Singapore, more than half of all plastic waste generated consists of food and drink packaging. At the current rate that waste and incineration ash is being sent to Pulau Semakau, Singapore’s only landfill, the landfill will reach its full capacity by 2035. Championing zero waste in Singapore, Mr. Ng Pei Kang founded his company TRIA to tackle the problem of plastic food packaging.
TRIA is Greek for ‘three’ and refers to the three things the company seeks to connect—consumers, businesses and the environment. TRIA’s sustainable packaging is made of a plant-based bioactive polyester that can be digested in 24 hours by the company’s Bio24 system. Ng describes the process as enzyme-catalyzed composting, and the outcome of digestion is a mineral-rich fertilizer.
A common deterrent most individuals face in recycling is the additional effort needed to thoroughly clean plastic packaging, known as dry waste in the recycling industry. However, food waste is referred to as wet waste and is not recyclable. Ng noted that the Bio24 system was designed such that users do not need to separate food waste from the packaging before processing.
Ng also acknowledges that the higher cost of sustainable food packaging is a barrier to its widespread adoption.
“This is where we try to make our products more marketable for companies, to show them that this is a good opportunity for branding while being sustainable at the same time,” he said. Companies such as Tim Ho Wan and Crave are already using TRIA’s packaging, suggesting that Ng’s approach is working.
In the future, Ng has ambitions to implement a central digestor plan, whereby brown bins for the collection of food waste and NEUTRIA® packaging will be made available to clients such as fast food chains and food service providers. The bins’ contents will then be collected and composted at a designated plant.
“Sustainability today should not feel like it’s an obligation,” Ng quipped. “At TRIA, we want to change the narrative—sustainability should be fun, Instagrammable and exciting.”
Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine.
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