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Rayner Loi, 26, SUSS Finance Student

Rayner Loi
Reducing global food waste motivated Rayner to set up Lumitics which offers innovative food waste management solutions to hotels and airlines. [Photo: Lumitics]

Cutting off food wastage at the source

Rayner's journey in the food waste management sector began after he met a youth mentee whose family could not afford to put meals on the table and realised that more can be done to tackle the food waste problem. Today, his firm has developed a smart dustbin that helps businesses measure and control their food waste.

Tell us about yourself.

I co-founded and run Lumitics, a food waste management solution company. We have developed solutions for the hospitality and airline industries and can count Accor Hotels, Hyatt Group and the Millennium and Copthorne Group, among our clients.

Why did you decide to pursue your career?

SUSS students typically take on a service learning project in Year 1, and as part of that, I started volunteering with at-risk youths who come from difficult backgrounds. One evening, I brought this particular youth I was journeying with out for a meal. When we went back to his home, his mother thanked me and said she was very grateful, as the family often could not afford to put meals on the table. I came away from that experience with a deep sense of injustice, especially because I was aware that in Singapore, large quantities of food are wasted every day. That led me on a journey to investigate what more can be done to tackle the food waste problem in a meaningful way. 

There are companies turning food waste into compost, and charities and organisations taking food and redistributing it to people who need it. However, I realised there was little being done to prevent food from being wasted in the first place. When I spoke to chefs, most of them identified food waste as a key issue for their kitchens but they simply did not know how to go about tackling it. That was where I saw an opportunity. 

Tell us more about your entrepreneurship journey.

My co-founder and I started working on prototypes in 2017 and commercialised our solution in 2019. Our product is a smart dustbin that uses sensors and image recognition to track all food waste generated. The premise is that what can be measured can be managed, controlled and prevented.

Executive chefs often lack visibility of what food waste is being generated by their kitchens and thus it makes it hard for them to take any meaningful action to reduce it. For example, when we are able to provide information to chefs on how much is left over from their buffet line, they can use this data to then optimise the amount they should be producing for future services. 

In the same way, when a plane touches down at an airport, unconsumed meals are typically thrown away. Airlines often do not have information on how much is being thrown away, and what type of food is being wasted. Our product allows airlines to use image recognition to track the number and type of unconsumed meals - down to the exact menu item. This allows them to adjust their meal allocations for flights accordingly, to reduce wastage.

In addition to the hospitality and aviation sectors, we also plan to explore other industry verticals including central kitchens, hospitals, cruise ships, farms and office cafeterias. Food waste is a global problem that plagues many industries.

What goals are you working towards?

Food waste is one of the most overlooked environmental problems. Given that food waste generates a significant amount of greenhouse gases when it is dumped into landfills, I believe that tackling food waste is one of the best ways to slow down global warming.

I envision Lumitics to become the go-to food waste management solution company that can develop various products to tackle food waste across the whole food supply chain - from farm to fork.

How has your SUSS experience shaped you and helped you pursue your passion?

SUSS took a very flexible, proactive approach to encouraging entrepreneurship, and I learnt a great deal from my mentors and professors there. During my time at SUSS, the university allowed me to fulfil my work attachment requirement at my own company, even though this was outside the initial scope of the work attachment programme. I believe I was the first student who requested to do so, and the university has since made this option available to all students.

In addition, I was also in the first batch of students who had the opportunity to embark on the Alibaba entrepreneurship minor programme, which I think is a great initiative. The programme involves workshops and sessions with real entrepreneurs who have actual real-world experience, and provided students with a pool of mentors to tap on.

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