Don't blame consumers for plastic bag use

PHOTO: ST FILE

Recently, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor announced that there will not be any levy on the use of plastic bags (Tackling excessive plastic bag use: No levy in the works; March 7).

I would like to congratulate her and the relevant agencies for not taking the convenient way out - by penalising the people financially to try and settle a national problem.

The plastic bag problem needs to be tackled at the root of its cause. The type and quantity of plastic bags issued are dictated by service providers and are really beyond the control of consumers.

Service providers, especially the major supermarkets, should train their staff to issue only the right number of plastic bags to customers. Some customers take recycled bags with them when shopping at the supermarkets.

The abundance of plastic bags has also helped to keep our environment cleaner. Many people use it to bag liquid waste before throwing the trash down the rubbish chute.

It is a no-brainer that making consumers to pay for the plastic bags will not work. Foodcourts and other eateries impose an additional 30 cents to 50 cents for takeaways on the pretext of trying to discourage the use of plastic containers.

But these charges have not altered customer behaviour.

A new way of tackling the problem is needed.

Taxing users is not the answer as that would only serve to increase frustration for consumers who have no control over the matter and can only go with the flow.

Lim Tong Wah