Put responsibility of recycling in consumers' hands

A customer leaving a FairPrice with a trolley full of groceries packed in plastic bags. PHOTO: ST FILE

Excessive packaging in supermarkets has been a hot topic recently. It is heartening to see more identification of systemic causes of wastage of food and resources, and I hope enlightened policies can be made to tackle them.

I spent five months in Germany last year and, through my frequent visits to the supermarket, I noticed a few things we can adopt in Singapore.

First, under the Pfand (deposit) system, customers pay a deposit for every plastic or glass bottled drink they purchase.

They get the same deposit back in the form of cash vouchers when they return the bottle to any participating store. These vouchers can be used for grocery expenses.

Second, in leading supermarket chains like Lidl and Aldi, most vegetables and fruits are sold loose, rather than pre-packed. This allows customers to choose the quantity and quality of the produce they want.

Their selections are weighed at the cashier and the price and weight are reflected on the receipt, rather than on an intermediate sticker and plastic bag.

Lastly, German supermarkets charge for plastic bags but provide customers with empty cardboard cartons from their stock to carry groceries home. Households are expected to recycle the cardboard cartons.

I admire how the average German consumer has more autonomy than the average Singaporean shopper. These features give consumers the power and flexibility to make decisions on how much waste they want to produce. The choice and responsibility of recycling lie with them.

Pamela Low Jia Hui (Miss)

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