Keep supermarket plastic bags free, charge for others

Most of the negative reaction towards a possible plastic bag surcharge by supermarket chains has centred on unintended consequences - such as people not bagging their rubbish, as they do not want to pay for plastic bags.

In high-rise buildings with rubbish chutes, this can pose a serious pest infestation problem.

The Government has spent years educating residents to bag our trash, and a reversal on that would be undesirable.

In Europe, charging for supermarket plastic bags is nothing new and has worked for them environmentally and economically. However, perhaps we can consider a more nuanced approach in Singapore, first.

We could keep supermarket plastic bags free for now and charge for all other bags - the odd-sized paper, plastic and even reusable bags provided at various stores.

Ikea Singapore set a precedent in 2013 by doing away with plastic bags, and Singaporeans have adapted well to it. It works well, as Ikea does not sell wet products that require plastic bags.

Around the region, Taiwan and Hong Kong do not provide plastic bags freely as well.

Often, people realise they do not need an extra paper or plastic bag when they must pay for it. These bags carry an operational, economic and environmental cost, and should be reflected as such to the consumer.

Curbing non-supermarket plastic bags can be a step towards working to reduce the excessive provision of supermarket plastic bags.

Pamela Low Jia Hui (Miss)