Letter of the day

Charging model for plastic bags at supermarkets urgently needed

I was pleased to read that all Cheers and FairPrice Xpress outlets will charge for plastic bags from next year (No more free plastic bags at Cheers, FairPrice Xpress soon, Nov 13).

However, I am frustrated as to why Singapore has yet to make it mandatory for all stores to charge for plastic bags.

The Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment said earlier this year that an appropriate model for a disposable carrier bag charge at supermarkets was being developed, but it could not provide a date by which the model would be finalised.

The charging model has been in place in many countries for a number of years. In Singapore, FairPrice started charging for plastic bags at selected outlets in 2019. The Singapore Environment Council also published a paper in 2013 that analysed plastic bag use in Singapore and made recommendations on how to mitigate wasteful use.

There is, therefore, plenty of data available, and I hope a charging model is ready soon, as Singapore cannot afford to delay this any further.

I call on the major supermarkets to take a united initiative and start charging for plastic bags from next year. They can start with a uniform charge of 5 cents per bag, as per Britain's original model which was highly successful.

Until an alternative solution is found, Singaporeans still need bags to dispose of household waste. If one bag is needed each day to bag trash, at 5 cents a bag, it would add up to around $1.50 per month. I believe most are paying more than that each month for takeaway containers.

Just as we are now used to clearing our trays at hawker centres, I am certain it will not take long for Singaporeans to adjust their mindsets and not feel entitled to take as many plastic bags as they want when they make purchases.

Ng Wee Chew

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2021, with the headline 'Charging model for plastic bags at supermarkets urgently needed'. Subscribe