One Less Plastic bag for groceries: Go reusable

The free reusable bags feature a bar code for tracking purposes, to help compile data on consumer behavioural patterns.
Under the One Less Plastic campaign, shoppers who spend more than $50 at participating supermarkets can redeem a reusable bag for groceries. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Under the One Less Plastic campaign, shoppers who spend more than $50 at participating supermarkets can redeem a reusable bag for groceries.
The free reusable bags feature a bar code for tracking purposes, to help compile data on consumer behavioural patterns.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Environment council, 4 supermarket chains, DBS roll out drive to cut use of plastic bags

Four major supermarket chains have teamed up with the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) and DBS Bank to launch a campaign to reduce plastic bag usage here.

The One Less Plastic campaign, launched yesterday, is fronted by FairPrice; Sheng Siong; Prime Group, which runs Mahota and Prime Supermarket; and Dairy Farm Group, which runs Cold Storage and Giant. It consists of a series of roadshows to encourage consumers to use reusable bags.

They will be held at 16 participating supermarket outlets and will run from Saturday to Feb 3.

During the roadshows, shoppers who spend more than $50 at the supermarkets can redeem a reusable bag made of waterproof fabric. It features a bar code to keep track of its use. The tracking will be rolled out at all outlets under the participating chains from March.

A pilot batch of 40,000 bags will be distributed, with more to come if the campaign is successful.

The Straits Times reported in August that local residents take 820 million plastic bags from supermarkets every year, according to an SEC study. About half of all shoppers take three or more plastic bags each time they go to a supermarket.

Through the One Less Plastic campaign, the SEC hopes to reduce plastic bag consumption by 25 per cent, said Ms Isabella Loh, who chairs the council, at the launch held in One Farrer Hotel yesterday.

  • 40,000

    Number of bags to be distributed during the One Less Plastic campaign, with more to come if the campaign is successful.

    820m

    Number of plastic bags Singapore residents take from supermarkets every year. About half of all shoppers take three or more plastic bags every time they go to a supermarket.

    25%

    Percentage the Singapore Environment Council is hoping to reduce plastic bag consumption by.

 

Shoppers can also enter a lucky draw to win $3,000 worth of vouchers by completing a survey and submitting a photo of themselves using the One Less Plastic reusable bag from Saturday to March 3.

Ms Loh said data collected from the tracking will be used to plan the future of the campaign and to inform consumers of their behavioural patterns.

Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor said at the launch: "Getting consumers to change their behaviour is not an easy task. Legislation and imposing plastic bag charges are not always the most effective or sustainable ways to convince people of the need to change.

SUSTAINABLE BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE

It is better to educate and persuade people about why they should reduce excessive use of plastic bags so that the behavioural change can be sustained over time.

DR AMY KHOR, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, on reducing plastic bag usage.

GENTLE REMINDER

Besides reusable bags, our counter staff are also trained to discourage shoppers from double bagging their groceries. We tell customers that plastic bags are more durable than before, so one bag is enough.

MR LIM HOCK CHEE, Sheng Siong chief executive, on staff training to educate shoppers on the use of plastic bags.

"It is better to educate and persuade people about why they should reduce excessive use of plastic bags so that the behavioural change can be sustained over time."

Sheng Siong chief executive Lim Hock Chee said in Mandarin: "Besides reusable bags, our counter staff are also trained to discourage shoppers from double bagging their groceries. We tell customers that plastic bags are more durable than before, so one bag is enough."

Ms Loh said future campaigns will focus on plastic bottles, packaging and food waste.

The SEC also announced an enhancement to its environmental certification programme, EcoOffice. Eco-Office Plus will measure staff engagement on top of the original programme's assessment of a company's waste management and energy and water usage.

Firms will be able to track their progress through a mobile app called EcoLifeSG. They can also tap the SEC's e-concierge service for consultation or advice on reducing their carbon footprint. This is especially so for small and medium-sized enterprises, which may not have the resources to devote to sustainability initiatives.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 13, 2018, with the headline 'One Less Plastic bag for groceries: Go reusable'. Print Edition | Subscribe