Offer monetary incentives to encourage plastic recycling

There has been much discussion on single-use plastic straws and bags, and banning them, with more organisations getting on the no-plastic-straw bandwagon.

In fact, such discussions have been ongoing for years, but it seems that there has not been much improvement in the situation.

Why have past efforts not been successful?

It is because plastic bags have become deeply rooted in our lifestyles as a product of convenience or necessity, just like how people are still using the air-conditioner despite knowing its harmful effects on the environment.

So instead of calling for a total ban on single-use plastic straws and bags, we should focus on two factors.

First, technology should be used to come up with an alternative form of carrier that will not harm the environment, like something that will dissolve in water without releasing harmful toxins, for example.

This will solve the problem of plastic bags clogging the oceans and harming marine life.

Second, a monetary incentive can be offered for the recycling of plastics, just like how metal and paper are collected and exchanged for cash.

This initiative will take off only if there are substantial economical benefits that can be derived from recycling these plastics into something useful. Again, there needs to be technological investment to kick off this initiative.

Perhaps the Government can invest some resources into these two areas, given the lacklustre response from the private sector so far.

These can be part of the initiatives by the Government to combat global warming in the long term.

Once the private sector sees that there is an economic benefit to this, there will be more players jumping on this bandwagon.

Victor Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2018, with the headline 'Offer monetary incentives to encourage plastic recycling'. Print Edition | Subscribe