Try fresh approach to cut plastic bag usage

With a worldwide push to cut down on the use of plastic bags, the recently launched campaign by four supermarket chains is encouraging for those who believe in this cause (Four supermarket chains launch campaign to reduce plastic bag use; Dec 12).

However, I was puzzled that shoppers had to spend more than $50 at the supermarkets to redeem a reusable bag which features a barcode to keep track of its use.

As it is an initiative by the major supermarket chains to cut down on the use of plastic bags, why impose such a high minimum purchase amount of $50?

Shouldn't these bags be given freely to promote their use and, therefore, the reduction in use of plastic bags?

Also, reusable bags have been in the market for a long time but appear to have made little progress in the fight to reduce the use of plastic bags.

How are these reusable bags different, other than them having tracking barcodes?

Would consumers even be receptive to the idea of being "tracked" on their use of this bag? And would the data collected be accurate, as each household could have more than one reusable bag which they may use interchangeably?

I propose that these major supermarket chains should provide a collection point where people can donate their excess plastic bags that they do not need.

Consumers who need them can then take them freely and benefit from using recycled plastic bags.

Victor Tan Thiam Siew

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2018, with the headline 'Try fresh approach to cut plastic bag usage'. Print Edition | Subscribe