The SG compost story

Composting has been done in Singapore for decades; but it remains far removed from our daily life and what we think our society does in Singapore. Think about it, have composting come up in your conversations with family or friends? Can you easily think of local composting facilities? Or even the companies selling locally made compost? Can you easily think of local communities that do composting?

Older Singapore residents may remember composting in farm or village areas, before Singapore transformed into what it is today. Some of us may also practice composting in our homes or community spaces. Likely, if you make compost in Singapore, you either remember how composting was done in Singapore’s early days, or you have learnt to make compost from online resources or overseas experiences. There remained a huge gap in available resources for people who want to learn from others who have successfully made compost in Singapore.

With the telling of SG Compost Story from the ground-up’s perspective, Project Black Gold hopes to help close this gap. In this overview, Cuifen shares her perspective on what Singapore’s composting scene looks like, through her interactions with people in composting-related initiatives with Foodscape Collective. In the rest of the SG Compost Story section, we bring stories of others.

The big industrial composting facilities

All too often, people reached out to Foodscape Collective with this question, “I have been collecting food scraps (or garden trimmings) that I would like to send somewhere, anywhere for composting. Where can I send it to? Who would collect them?”

If people have to name a local facility that makes compost, they may be hard pressed to name one. Out of sight, out of mind. Did you think of Ecowise and Greenback? These companies make compost locally on an industrial scale. Ecowise’s facility is found at Sarimbun Recycling park in northwest Singapore, while Greenback’s compost facility is found in Johor.

Both companies make compost from plant waste (e.g. leaves, grass, tree clippings, branches and shrubs). These facilities require large amounts of land, specially trained staff and large equipment. The facilities generate noise and dust, and are not found anywhere close to residential areas. They make use of high temperature technologies to create large amounts of organic compost that are of a consistent quality. Ecowise’s compost is awarded the Singapore Green Label by the Singapore Environmental Council.

Commercial Farms

There are many commercial food farms in Singapore. Below, we share some light on how composting played a role to the operations of two soil-based food farms.

Quan Fa Organic Farm

Quan Fa Organic Farm used to have a soil-based organic farm at Murai Farmway in north-west Singapore. They stopped making compost in ~2017, when it became apparent that they had to move to a new location. The farm is a family business that spanned over two decades.

The farm at Murai Farmway used to have a dedicated area for composting. The compost piles were huge, and much taller than the height of farmers. The family started composting after Senior Mr Liao learnt a unique Japanese composting technique, known as the Takahama Compost System, from a visiting farmer. Before that, the family was farming the conventional way (i.e. not organic), and Senior Mr Liao was introduced to organic farming during a visit to Taiwan just a year before. In implementing the Takahama Compost System, the farm used plant waste, sawdust and yeast. The compost piles are left for 3-6 months for the natural decomposition to occur. The compost ensured the farm produces healthy and nutrient-dense produce.

With the compost piles, the farm had a collaboration with Nespresso, where used coffee was extracted from used coffee capsules for composting. Check out Anita Kapoor’s sharing here:

The farm would also accept cut used compostable cutlery from Earth Fest events, which were held yearly at Marina Barrage.

Farm 85

Farm 85 is a soil-based vegetable farm in Lim Chu Kang. Many community gardeners would specially travel to the farm to buy vegetable seedlings, compost-soil mix and compost at a relatively affordable price. The farm makes compost using the farm’s vegetable waste; chicken poo from nearby farms; as well as food waste which are collected from businesses. The farm uses the same compost to amend soil in their own farms.


There are many hotels in Singapore. Below, we share some light on how composting played a role to the operations of two hotels.

Siloso Beach Resort

Siloso Beach Resort is possibly the only hotel in Singapore with a purpose-built wormery! The wormery is located next to the swimming pool. Guests and visitors to the hotel can gain insight on how the wormery is run, as part of daily eco-tours offered by the resort.

The purpose-built wormery allows for a well run controlled environment for vermicomposting, i.e. composting with help of compost earthworms. When one steps into the wormery, you are greeted by shelves of boxes, cool temperatures, and a surprisingly pleasant fragrance. There are also electronic gadgets that help the team track the living conditions.

The wormery only uses Malaysian blue compost earthworms, which are local. The worms are fed with fruit and vegetable scraps from the hotel’s kitchen. The box system allows the team to remove any box that is not doing well. Molasses are added to feed the useful bacteria in the worm bedding. The team would also share how compost earthworms need good housing; if the conditions are not right, the compost earthworms would start to run out.

The poo of these compost earthworms is also known as vermicompost. The vermicompost that the wormery generates are used by the hotel for their landscaping upkeep. On occasions, they gave out large amounts of vermicompost to community growers. They also gave learning workshops to schools, and encouraged interested schools to set up similar wormeries.

Sheraton Tower Hotel

The chefs of Sheraton Towers Hotel reached out to Foodscape Collective, as they were interested to learn how they can do better sustainability-wise, and explore what collaborations can be done with the community. With can do better sustainability-wise, and explore what they could do with the community. Through these discussions, Foodscape Collective #compostcollaborations initiative initiated a small group collection.

The chefs of Sheraton Tower Hotel make their own compost. They do this out of a sincere interest to reduce food waste and turn food scraps into compost that is used in the hotel’s own edible gardens. What’s really amazing is the chefs make this part of their team’s operations, where every day someone is tasked to do the composting and garden upkeep.

The team uses Ridan Composter, which was specially brought in from the UK for the purpose. The raw materials for composting in the Ridan Composter are food scraps and sawdust. It has been months of experiment for the team, as they figured about the proportions of food scraps relative to sawdust, and ways to create good compost that they would use in the edible gardens.

Community-in-Bloom community gardeners

Some older folks amongst the Community-in-Bloom community gardeners remember how composting was done using the kampung days. They may not understand when you mention ‘compost’, but would smile with a knowing nod when you ask them about “堆肥”.

Many community gardeners we spoke to would make compost as part of their preparation of the soil in raised beds or pots, before growing. Some may bury large amounts of uncooked plant-based food scraps collected at the nearby markets. They may do this on their own, or get support from other growers in the same garden.

What many people may not be aware of – taking care of community gardens can be an expensive affair. Gardeners generally fork out their own funds to buy soil, compost, seeds and other materials. Purchasing soil for a single raised bed can easily set you back by hundreds of dollars. For some, composting food scraps inside their pots or raised beds is a way to ensure the gardens retain a decent appearance with some assurance of better quality soil, and a lesser need to purchase fertilisers or deal with pests that are associated with unhealthy plants.

Some may tell you not to waste time making compost with garden trimmings and/or food scraps. From their experience, poop of animals (e.g. chicken, horse) may be a better addition to your soil. Animal poop is nitrogen-rich, and nitrogen does support plant growth. Before adding animal poop in your garden soil, it is important to know what animals have been feeding on, and also the health of the animals. Animal poop may contain medication, bacteria or disease that you do not want to introduce to your garden.

We have also met many growers who tried and failed with composting. Many asked the same questions. “What is compost? Is it soil? Is it fertiliser?” They may say, “We tried and it stank! It was such a mess…” Some others might ask, “ does it attract rats / cockroach / flies / bugs…? Do we need a lot of space?”. Many of these questions are the same that people have when they try composting at home.

There are successful examples for composting at these gardens. Check out the individual stories in this SG Compost Story section.

Composting at home

For those who compost at home, there are online resources such as Facebook groups (e.g. Singapore Vermicomposting – Worm Composting), Facebook pages (e.g. Compost in Singapore) and websites (e.g. Eco Walk the Talk). While one may quickly get feedback, tips from interacting with others in Facebook groups, these information tend to be in little nuggets and are quickly buried under new posts.

In NParks’ website, there is a webpage that encourages people to compost ‘household waste, indoors and outdoors’ (link). It provides a generic list of information on aerobic composting, and doesn’t provide photos or real-life examples on people successfully making compost in Singapore.

Individuals who occasionally reach out to Foodscape Collective saying that they have made compost at home but have no gardens to use them; or are keen to give food scraps to people or businesses who can turn them into compost. There seems to be a gap for both instances – would there be people or gardens or farms who are willing to receive home-made compost on a regular basis? Would there be compost makers who want to receive food scraps?