Kilang ReRoot: Tackling food waste towards a sustainable future
With a strong appetite to raise awareness on food consumption and tackling food waste in Brunei, four passionate friends decided to spearhead the national zerowaste movement with the social enterprise, Kilang ReRoot (KRR).
Founded in November 2020 by Siti Jaafar, Hazirah Zainuddin, Aneeqah Saiful and Syamilah Osman, who all shared the same passion and enthusiasm for building a community of ecoconscious consumers.
From discarding yesterday’s dinner leftovers to the demand for the ‘perfect’ fruit and vegetables. Overconsumption and
overproduction are contributing factors to the climate crisis with their significant greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint.
“Food waste poses threats to the environment and causes the release of methane gas. Despite its detrimental impacts, we discovered that although there are works to address the issue of environmental sustainability in Brunei, there was no specific effort put into addressing food waste,” said founder and managing director of Kilang ReRoot, Siti.
In 2020, Brunei has been reported to be the highest waste generator in ASEAN, generating around 1.15 kg of waste per capita per day. According to Siti, food waste makes up 36 percent of Brunei’s total municipal waste.
She added that food waste also takes up a large percentage of our landfills – more than plastic and paper.
With climate change in mind, the youth-led movement is hoping to break the cycle of food waste by educating people about responsible food production and consumption and what they can do to reduce the amount of food they waste.
Siti believes that in order to guarantee a sustainable future and eliminate food waste, it would require transitioning to a circular food economy and employing a regenerative approach to how food is produced.
“This includes changes in policies in terms of how produce is packaged and sold in markets, what vendors need to do with their excess food by the end of their
operating hours, and others,” she said.
Small changes can make a huge difference. Simply changing the way you shop and cook can help reduce your environmental and climate change footprint, she added.
This is done by incorporating simple and easy actions in your daily routine to cut down preventable food waste.
“At Kilang ReRoot, we often emphasise the importance of selfawareness. There are also several things that are within our control, including being more conscious of what and how much we are putting into our grocery baskets,” she shared.
The young eco-preneur also said that planning, prepping, and storing food can help reduce household waste.
“This includes small habits like preparing and sticking to a grocery list, bringing your own produce back to avoid buying pre-packaged fruits that are in large quantities, bringing leftovers from restaurants home and eating them, and others,” she continued.
Using their own personal zero waste lifestyle journeys as a starting point, the dynamic foursome aims to educate and tackle as many food waste-related topics as well as instill a ‘green’ mindset within the community.
Kilang ReRoot aims to play its part in reducing food waste in the country by focusing on “efficient management in every stage of the food cycle, emphasising on waste recovery to prevent food waste from being dumped in landfills.”
The organisation aims to tackle food waste using the three pillars of sustainability: “reducing food waste (environment) by involving multiple sectors of the Bruneian community (society) and creating opportunities for local businesses through food upcycling projects (economy).”
Kilang ReRoot is also committed to supporting Brunei in achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One of the NGO’s targets is SDG 12: (Responsible Consumption and Production), driven by the mission to eliminate food waste and promote conscious shopping
“Through our platform, we have shown to our followers some sustainable behaviours that are realistic and localised to Brunei culture. And most importantly, a change of mindset. People need to learn, relearn and unlearn their way of thinking and habits to understand why the world wastes so much — the problem always starts with us; yourself,” she explained.
Kilang ReRoot hopes to provide a platform for Bruneians to talk more about going and zero waste lifestyle.
The social entrepreneurs would also utilise social media to promote their environmental causes. The business’ Instagram @kilangreroot. bn has gained over 1,000 followers who tune in for tips on living zero waste and reducing food waste.
According to the founder, the zero-waste movement has already been gaining popularity across Brunei thanks, in part, to the increasing awareness among the younger demographic about environmental issues.
“There has definitely been a huge increase in zero waste movement in Brunei, and the environmental sustainability ecosystem has been very supportive of each other as well. So this has benefited us in terms of increased collaboration efforts between agencies, and even helped us spread our message across different audiences,” she added.
Not only that, but Kilang ReRoot also runs workshops and food upcycling projects centered on community growth and finding creative solutions that aims to tackle food waste into new usable products and avoid food loss into landfills that affect the ecosystem.
“At the moment, we are focusing more on collaborative works with other government and nongovernmental agencies. We’ve been invited to host several workshops for secondary and sometimes elementary school students as an effort to instill awareness on food waste,” she shared.
The local NGO has hosted several charity events and upcycling education workshops such as the soap-making workshop with Aras Soap and the recent project, Projek Qarib where they raised up to $1900 in donations to migrant workers during Ramadan.
Siti shared that the objective of the NGO is to collaborate with homegrown businesses and also build a strong community and a platform.
Like many non-profit organizations, there are always challenges and Kilang ReRoot has been a great learning experience for the four social entrepreneurs.
Siti shared that one of the many challenges the young social entrepreneurs face is the constant pressure of coming up with new content to keep the audience engaged and stay interested in the long run.
“Another challenge that we face is we are a team of four, each with our own careers. Sometimes finding the time to plan out projects becomes limited, or even too much sometimes,” she said.
When asked the young social entrepreneurs what keeps them motivated. She said to surround yourself with like-minded individuals
“Being in a community or even a small circle with similar goals, can make you feel motivated in the long run and help you stay in line with why you decided to create impact,” she added.
As for future plans, Kilang ReRoot hopes to expand its organisation and continue to strive for food waste reduction, and move towards its Zero Waste Goals.
“We want to be the hub for circular waste/resource management in terms of receiving and upcycling waste into usable products and perhaps, as the changemakers and policymakers for environmental/sustainable movements,” she concluded.