by Shabana Begum, The Straits Times
SINGAPORE – Two local sustainability companies have beaten around 10,000 other green firms to join an elite group of 25 winners in a global start-up competition organised by a United Nations body.
The top 25 will now get access to venture capitalists, mentorship and potential partnerships with corporations worldwide.
Both Singapore start-ups aim to eradicate waste using high-tech equipment and novel methods.
Seven Clean Seas is racing to remove plastic from coasts, seas and rivers while Lumitics wants hotels and airlines to slash food waste.
The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has been holding annual international start-up competitions since 2018, but the one it launched last year was the first to include the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals set out in the 2030 agenda.
At least one of the 25 winners is classified under each goal. Seven Clean Seas won under the “Life below water” goal while Lumitics prevailed under the “Sustainable consumption and production” goal.
“The award gives us international recognition and validation for all the hard work we’ve put in, and for the mission that we are pursuing, which is to help kitchens be more sustainable by reducing food waste,” said Lumitics chief executive Rayner Loi, 26.
The four-year-old company’s flagship product is Insight, a tracker that can be placed over rubbish bins to weigh and identify the food to be thrown away before it is dumped.
The device has a weight sensor and proprietary image recognition technology to weigh and identify the types of uneaten food or food waste. Kitchen staff just need to dump the food onto the device’s tray and press a button for the sensor and camera to do their job. The tray can be tilted to drop the waste into the bin.
The data collected will be sent to a platform and analysed and recommendations made on how chefs can reduce food waste.
“Insight helps kitchens get a very granular understanding of what is being thrown away. The information will help the chef better plan for future services and not be in the dark,” said Mr Loi, whose clients include Accor hotel group and Andaz Singapore.
Insight can help to reduce up to 40 per cent of food waste in kitchens and up to 8 per cent of food costs.
The UNWTO announced the 25 winners last week and will hold a virtual event for them early next month.
The winning start-ups were selected based on their innovation, scalability and business impact, among other criteria.