Plastic bag charge may be the answer

There has been ongoing conversation in the media about charging for plastic bags and the general support for the idea is heartening ('Bribing' people not to use plastic bags won't work, Sept 20; Firm action needed to reduce use of plastic bags, Sept 26; and 5-cent charge per plastic bag more appropriate, Sept 26).

It is encouraging to see so many in Singapore being passionate about the need to be more environment-friendly in our daily lives.

There are compelling reasons for us to be so, especially when it comes to the use of plastic bags.

Singapore generated a whopping 822,200 tonnes of plastic waste last year. What is even more disturbing is that a large portion of plastic ends up in our waterways and seas.

Besides huge belts of trash floating in the oceans, traces of micro plastic filaments are now found in water all over the world and can cause harm to both human and animal life.

In an urban setting, plastic-waste litter trap water and breed mosquitoes.

In short, the evidence is onerous and points to negative repercussions when we do not reduce our use of plastic.

If charging a levy on plastic bags by supermarkets can reduce usage, as successfully trialled in places such as Britain and Hong Kong, perhaps that is the direction Singapore should take.

Whatever the outcome, we should be prepared to make small changes for the greater good.

Edward D' Silva

Chairman

Public Hygiene Council

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2017, with the headline 'Plastic bag charge may be the answer'. Print Edition | Subscribe