Incentivise customers, hawkers to use less plastic

It is heartening to know that hawker centres are making an effort in the fight against global warming by switching to renewable energy sources ("8 hawker centres included in solar power push"; Oct 17).

However, would it be feasible for us to take it one step further?

There were 766,800 tonnes of plastic waste disposed of last year, with only a mere 7 per cent plastic recycling rate, according to the National Environment Agency's statistics on waste and recycling.

Plastic food containers and plastic bags are very common in our daily lives. Singaporeans lead a fast-paced lifestyle and most people would opt to purchase food, instead of cooking. Most of this food is packed in plastic containers.

We use plastic containers only for the duration of our meal, but plastic, being non-biodegradable, would take at least 450 years to completely decompose.

Most eateries have additional charges for the use of their plastic containers for takeaway food.

We could adopt a reward system similar to the National University of Singapore Project Box initiative.

The initiative rewards customers with a stamp each time they use their own containers for takeaway purchases.

An individual who has accumulated a certain number of stamps would be given a rebate of $2 for his next meal.

Vendors would also be able to benefit from the reduced cost of plastic containers in their operating costs.

Public food centres in Singapore could adopt a similar model of rewards to encourage buyers to reduce plastic wastage and encourage them to reuse and recycle their own containers.

Chiang Kar Wai (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 03, 2016, with the headline 'Incentivise customers, hawkers to use less plastic'. Print Edition | Subscribe