Singapore generates 809,800 tonnes of food waste annually, but only 16 per cent of the food waste is recycled.
UglyGood is a cleantech social enterprise addressing the increasingly perilous issues of climate change and food wastage. By leveraging on green bioprocessing technologies, UglyGood have managed to transform organic byproducts into valuable resources.
Check out our interview with Jeremy Lee, UglyGood’s co-founder below!
What inspired this business model of upcycling food waste?
We turn fruit waste (fruit pulps and peel by-products) into animal feed and natural bio-based cleaning agents. To date, we have diverted over 40,000kg of fruit waste away from the landfill.
We were inspired by this business model as we saw huge amounts of food by-products going to waste, despite the fact that this waste is a resource and commodity that could be harvested.
Who are the people behind UglyGood? Tell us more about yourselves!
UglyGood was founded in 2017 during our undergraduate days in Singapore Management University (SMU). It was co-founded by myself and Clewyn Puah, a fellow SMU undergraduate.
We first learnt about the food waste issue then and being entrepreneurs at heart, we decided to find out how we can mitigate the problem by turning waste into something valuable (waste valorisation).
Despite not having a technical background in science or engineering, we started seeking ways to extract and create value from waste streams. Ever since then, we have inspired and attracted organisations, businesses, scientists and individuals from different backgrounds to join us in our journey towards zero waste.
What products do you create and what type of companies do you work with? What are some challenges you face?
We are turning fruit waste in the juicing industry into valuable products such as animal feed and natural bio-based cleaning agents. We work with organisations such as Singapore Zoo to utilise fruit by-products as animal feed. Other organisations such as hotels, property developers and even facilities management companies are also strong adopters of our natural cleaning solution, which we have made using waste fruit peels. Simultaneously, we also partnered with research scientists from Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) such as Temasek Poly to improve our products through technology and R&D efforts.
Some challenges involved creating products using the principles of circular economy, and proving that is a better alternative compared to existing market options. Hence, we ensure that all our products create a strong business value proposition for our clients, through the underlying benefits of a circular economy and the application of design thinking principles.
How has creating UglyGood shaped your view of food waste in Singapore?
When we first found out about the staggering amount of food waste in Singapore, it was shocking to us that so much was being wasted (809,800 tonnes annually) for such a small country. It was very surprising as well, to know that there were not many effective solutions around to tackle the food wastage problem.
After looking into this issue further, we realise that this is a huge global problem, and we saw an opportunity for innovation and disruption in the space of effective waste valorisation. Hence, we believe that we are able to create positive impact for the environment and also create a viable business model around wastage. We believe that food waste in Singapore should be a resource and commodity to be harvested.
What are your thoughts on 2018 being the Year of Climate Action for Singapore?
We are glad that Singapore is making great strides in environmental sustainability through its commitment towards climate action. In particular, it is heartening to witness Singapore’s effort for the environment and plans to keep in line with the Paris climate agreement. We believe that this movement will continue to grow as more organisations and individuals become more forward thinking and realise that sustainability is here to stay.