Reducing plastic use less costly than recycling

While I agree that there should be better disposal and recycling initiatives for plastic waste, the focus should be on reducing the use of plastics whenever we can ("Responsible disposal of plastic is key" by Mr Paul Chan Poh Hoi; Oct 25).

Although recycling has its benefits, such as reducing the depletion of natural resources and the amount of waste sent to our only landfill, Pulau Semakau, recycling operations incur additional costs as well, including the rinsing of recyclables by consumers and the pickup, sorting and processing done by recycling companies.

On the other hand, reducing the use of plastics by consumers - such as by opting to purchase goods with less plastic wrapping, and even the simple act of taking along our own bags with us when we go shopping - can go a long way towards reducing our burden on the environment, even avoiding the need for subsequent efforts at recycling and dumping.

The FairPrice Green Rewards Scheme, which encourages customers to bring with them their own bags, saved more than nine million plastic bags last year. It is a prime example of how retailers and consumers can work hand in hand to reduce plastic waste.

Thus, instead of rationalising the use of unsustainable resources with the choice of recycling, as users, we should first ask ourselves whether it is necessary to pick up that extra plastic bag.

Felicia Khor Hui Shan (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 15, 2015, with the headline 'Reducing plastic use less costly than recycling'. Print Edition | Subscribe