FairPrice's move to cut plastic bag use may backfire

Shoppers using plastic bags at NTUC FairPrice Xtra at Vivocity on Sept 4, 2019.
Shoppers using plastic bags at NTUC FairPrice Xtra at Vivocity on Sept 4, 2019.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Singapore's largest supermarket chain, FairPrice, will charge for plastic bags in a month-long trial (Plastic bag fee at some FairPrice outlets, Sept 5).

As an environmentalist, I welcome this move but remain sceptical about its effectiveness.

For a mere 20 cents, shoppers can still take as many plastic bags as they want.

This fee is too insignificant to discourage shoppers from taking the bags.

In fact, it may backfire. Some consumers may believe they are entitled to take more bags than they need since they have paid the plastic bag charge.

To make the initiative effective, charge 20 cents per plastic bag instead.

To complement the move, FairPrice could reintroduce the bring-your-own-bag discount, which it discontinued recently. This time, discount a percentage of the transaction instead of the previous fixed 10-cent rebate.

Lee Yong Se

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2019, with the headline 'FairPrice's move to cut plastic bag use may backfire'. Print Edition | Subscribe