Koufu at SMU: Singapore’s First Food Court to Say No to Plastic Straws

By the SMU Corporate Communications team

SINGAPORE, 29 March 2018 – According to Waste and Recycling Statistics for 2016 provided by the National Environment Agency, plastics constitute the highest amount of disposed waste (762,700 tonnes) and have the lowest recycling rate of a mere seven per cent. Driven by a vision to be more environmentally responsible, Koufu at SMU is poised to be Singapore’s first food court to launch a Say No to Plastic Straws initiative. By initiating this Say No to Plastic Straws campaign, it aims to raise awareness amongst Singaporeans and residents on the need to reduce unnecessary plastic waste.

Using plastic straws is a habit picked up from childhood for most Singaporeans. Though seemingly insignificant, the impact of plastic straws on the environment is in reality far reaching and damaging. Being non-biodegradable, plastic straws add to waste pollution in land-scarce Singapore. A report by TODAY states that straws make up 12 per cent of litter collected at coastal clean-ups in Singapore . By taking steps to reduce the use of plastic straws entirely — Koufu at SMU aims to help safeguard the environment. Should this initiative gain traction, Koufu will implement this initiative at its other outlets.

“As Singapore continues to thrive economically and grow in population, the amount of solid waste generated by us will increase as well. We hope that by taking real action today, we can inspire others to take responsibility for the environment,” said David Yang, Chief Development Officer. “We are proud to kickstart this initiative with Singapore Management University (SMU), who has always been a champion of environmental sustainability, from being an early adopter of ISO 50001 Energy Management Certification and its urban farming initiatives, to the sharing of best practices with the community under SMU GROW and Sustainability.”

When asked of SMU’s response to this Say No to Plastic Straws initiative, Bernadette Toh, Consultant of SMU GROW and Sustainability responded, “We are very heartened by this move.  Sustainability is a long term commitment. For it to take root, we need to change our attitudes and behaviour, and break certain habits in order to progressively embrace sustainable practices as a way of life. Since 2014, SMU has been studying best practices and putting in place green measures, at both corporate, as well as individual levels.

The Say No to Plastic Straws movement is another small, yet significant, step in our efforts to collaborate with partners such as Koufu, to raise awareness of the ways in which each of us can do our part on the green journey. Our city campus, located in the heart of the concrete jungle of Singapore, can be a living example of sustainable practices. We will continue to develop sustainable solutions and grow a culture of greening the environment in which we live, work and play.”

In addition to its Say No to Plastic Straws initiative, the food court will be using biodegradable takeaway packaging as well as reusable utensils, encouraging members of the community to reduce usage of disposable items. 

Said SMU President Arnoud De Meyer, “I personally believe that sustainability is imperative, and the time is now. I have always impressed upon our SMU community that one of the measures of our success is when we engage our partners, neighbours and members of the public in causes close to our hearts. I am therefore very happy that Koufu stepped up to take the lead in discouraging the use of plastic straws at its SMU outlet. This will go a long way towards cultivating a mindfulness about the harmful use of plastic, not just within the university, but also among members of the public who patronise Koufu. It is my hope that all F&B outlets at SMU will follow this excellent example.”

Featured photo: A total of 198 participants including Koufu staff, SMU students, faculty, staff and members of the public took part in the national record-breaking attempt on 29 March 2018 at Koufu at SMU.  

Media Coverage:

Down to the last straw (The New Paper)

No plastic straws at this food court (The Sunday Times)

SMU Koufu foodcourt stops providing plastic straws (Lianhe Zaobao)

Koufu food court in SMU stops providing plastic straws to customers (Channel 8 News)

Koufu food court in SMU stops providing plastic straws to customers (Yahoo Online)