FairPrice ends 'no plastic bag' trial, to develop action plan from findings

Customers will no longer have to pay a plastic bag surcharge at seven FairPrice and Cheers outlets involved in its month-long "no plastic bag" trial.

But the supermarket chain said it was too early to reveal the results of the trial, which ended on Wednesday. The trial also involved a consumer sentiment survey.

FairPrice said more updates will be available next month.

A spokesman thanked customers for supporting the initiative, adding that the survey findings and consumer feedback will be analysed "to develop a well-informed and sustainable action plan to reduce plastic bag use".

Amid growing global awareness about the excessive use of single-use plastics such as plastic bags, FairPrice launched its month-long "no plastic bag" trial on Sept 16 at several of its outlets.

As part of the trial, customers were charged 10 cents or 20 cents for every transaction in which they took plastic bags at seven FairPrice and Cheers outlets.

These were FairPrice Xtra at Hougang 1 mall, FairPrice Finest at Zhongshan Mall, FairPrice at Maple Tree 18 mall, FairPrice Xpress in Lorong Chuan, and the Cheers outlets at Sengkang Community Hospital and in Create Way - at the National University of Singapore - and Aljunied Road.

Shoppers wanting plastic bags had to pay 20 cents a transaction at the FairPrice, FairPrice Finest and FairPrice Xtra stores, and 10 cents a transaction at the Cheers and FairPrice Xpress stores.

The money was donated to the Singapore Children's Society and The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund.

 
 
 
 

When the trial was launched, The Straits Times spoke to more than 30 customers across several outlets and found that most supported the move to charge for plastic bags. Shoppers of all ages were seen whipping out foldable reusable bags or taking along trolleys on their grocery runs.

But the reaction on social media was different, with many saying that if they were not given plastic bags for free, they would simply throw rubbish down the chute without bagging it.

Ms Pamela Low of the Singapore Youth for Climate Action said she commended FairPrice's willingness to start the trial to charge people for plastic bags "in its efforts to be a responsible retailer contributing to Singapore's push towards zero waste".

Under new zero-waste targets unveiled in August, Singapore wants to send 30 per cent less waste to its only landfill on Semakau Island by 2030.

On comments that plastic bags are needed to bag rubbish, Ms Low agreed, saying: "I use plastic bags for wet trash too, and we should still continue to bag our trash to prevent pest issues, given our high-rise infrastructure." She said that if FairPrice's trial to reduce plastic bag use was successful, the chain could consider complementing the charge with a rebate scheme, in which those who do not take bags get discounts.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2019, with the headline 'FairPrice ends 'no plastic bag' trial, to develop action plan from findings'. Print Edition | Subscribe