Tackle plastic waste problem through laws

I welcome the Government's effort to tackle plastic waste (Move to get retailers to limit plastic bag usage; June 6).

In our Singapore society, plastic bags are given out too freely and excessive packaging is the norm.

The damage to the environment is simply appalling and unsustainable.

Recently, it was reported that a whale died in southern Thailand after swallowing more than 80 plastic bags weighing up to 8kg (Whale dies in Thailand after swallowing 80 plastic bags; ST Online, June 2).

The Government has been addressing the issue of the use of excessive plastic bags and packaging, through public education and guidance for retailers.

However, I fear that with the present approach, it will be a long time before there will be results seen.

Other countries have tackled the issue of excessive plastic bag use and packaging through legislation, and this has proven to be more effective.

In England, a reduction of more than 85 per cent in plastic bag use was reported after a 5 pence (90 Singapore cents) charge for plastic bags was imposed in October 2015.

In China, there has been legislation to restrict and regulate packaging manufacturing processes since 2012.

I urge the Government to consider legislation on excessive packaging and to impose a plastic bag levy, which are the approaches adopted by other countries and are empirically effective.

Yiu Wing Lit

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2018, with the headline 'Tackle plastic waste problem through laws'. Print Edition | Subscribe