Singapore goes through 1.76 billion plastic items a year, recycles less than 20%

In a survey of more than 1,000 people online, the non-governmental organisation found that people in Singapore take 820 million plastic bags yearly from supermarkets.
In a survey of more than 1,000 people online, the non-governmental organisation found that people in Singapore take 820 million plastic bags yearly from supermarkets.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - Singapore uses at least 1.76 billion plastic items a year - or almost one plastic item per person per day - but less than 20 per cent is recycled, according to survey results announced by the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) on Tuesday (July 31).

In a survey of more than 1,000 people online, the non-governmental organisation found that people in Singapore take 820 million plastic bags yearly from supermarkets.

Only 2 per cent of these supermarket plastic bags were recycled by consumers. Two-thirds were used for the disposal of waste.

The six-month SEC study, undertaken with the help of global consultancy Deloitte, also found that Singapore used 467 million polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles a year and 473 million plastic disposable items like takeaway containers.

Less than 20 per cent of these items are recycled.

The study did not include plastic bags given out by places other than supermarkets.

A council spokesman said: "We wanted to measure something people could accurately recall and measure. Most people can estimate the number of plastic bags they use on each supermarket shopping trip, while it may be harder for them to recall how many bags they use from all sources in a week or month."

 
 
 
 

When asked about how this survey results contrast with previous estimates that Singapore goes through 13 plastic bags a day, SEC executive director Jen Teo said that the council's estimate was conservative.

"We wanted to be granular and focus on the most easily measurable usage," she said.

A survey of 2,000 people in March by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Singapore found that 80 per cent of the respondents said they would support a plastic bag levy.

Speaking about the SEC survey findings, a WWF spokesman said: "There's still a huge dark hole when it comes to the plastic bags given out by other retailers. There aren't only supermarkets, but also bubble tea shops or bakeries that give multiple plastic bags."

The SEC plans to launch a campaign to educate the public to use fewer plastic items, and will work with partners such as NTUC FairPrice and Coca-Cola.

Ms Teo said: "SEC is calling on every individuals in Singapore to use one less plastic item per day. We intend to encourage shoppers to use not more than two plastic bags per trip. "