Fashion giant H&M will soon start charging customers in Singapore 10 cents for each plastic or paper bag, as part of a new initiative to reduce waste.
The move, which will take effect at all H&M stores from Thursday next week, is part of a packaging strategy to reduce plastic use in the long run, said the Swedish retailer in a press release on Monday.
All proceeds from the shopping bag charge will be donated to Plastic ACTion (Pact), a World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) initiative to reduce plastic use by 2030.
Under Pact, proceeds from H&M's shopping bag charge will go towards innovations to find sustainable alternative materials, research on plastic pollution and conservation projects.
Shoppers who patronise the fashion giant have welcomed the move.
Graphic designer Audrey Ng, 25, who shops at H&M every other month, said she does not mind paying for a bag.
"If I really need a bag, then why not pay for it? It's 10 cents, which is not expensive, and the money also goes to a good cause."
Ms Ng added that the charge would also make shoppers consider if they really need a bag before accepting one.
Civil servant Ginny Goh, 44, said that while she does not think plastic bags should be banned, charging for them is the right move.
"I think all single-use bags should be chargeable. We need to drastically cut down on their use, and the only way is to charge.
"This way, people will take only what they need."
Ms Goh's two teenage daughters also shop at H&M, and she regularly encourages them to take along their own bags.
"I don't think it's a big deal to charge for bags. People will get used to it. In many other countries, bags are already chargeable in shops and in supermarkets."
H&M already charges for shopping bags in other countries, including Sweden, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, Japan and Switzerland.
It is not the first company in Singapore to charge for shopping bags.
Swedish furniture giant Ikea, for example, started charging for plastic bags in 2007, before phasing them out in 2013.
Asked about customer reactions to the zero plastic bag policy, the head of sustainability for Ikea South-east Asia Soh Bee Lian said there was almost no negative reaction. "We believe that Singaporeans want to do what they can for the environment," she said.
Lifestyle brand Miniso and clothing chain Bossini have been charging 10 cents for a bag since 2017 and 2012, respectively.
WWF Singapore chief executive Maureen DeRooij said H&M's move comes at a crucial time, when bold action is needed to change how plastics are produced, used and disposed of.
"A bag charge, proven to be effective in reducing plastic use, is a crucial step that retail businesses can take to stop plastic pollution."