SINGAPORE – People will soon be paying more for plastic, with most supermarkets set to charge at least five cents per bag by July 3.
The move, part of efforts to reduce the use of disposables in Singapore, comes in tandem with efforts to ramp up recycling efforts in homes.
About 400 major supermarkets – or two-thirds of all outlets here – will charge for disposable shopping bags. They include NTUC FairPrice, Cold Storage, Giant, Sheng Siong and Prime supermarket stores.
Disposable carrier bags of other material types will also carry a charge.
While the price on disposable bags was first announced in 2022, the July 3 start date was announced by Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Amy Khor in Parliament on Thursday.
Speaking during the debate on the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment’s (MSE) budget, Dr Khor said: “Following consultations with supermarket operators, we understand that the majority will be charging five cents per bag, and this would moderate potential cost impact on consumers. We can avoid the charge by bringing our own reusable bags.”
In a joint statement, the National Environment Agency (NEA) and MSE said: “Whether they are made of paper, plastic or degradable materials, disposables have an impact on our environment during their production, transportation and disposal.”
Since all disposable bags in Singapore are either recycled or incinerated before being thrown into the landfill, biodegradable bags – which have already turned to ash – cannot naturally degrade here. Biodegradable bags are also not necessarily recyclable.
Supermarket chains can proceed with the bag charge before July 3, if they wish to.
A number of smaller retailers and some supermarkets have already been voluntarily charging for plastic and paper shopping bags. These include The Body Shop, H&M, Guardian, Watsons, 7-Eleven, 11 FairPrice outlets and 178 Cheers and FairPrice Xpress stores.
Similar schemes in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the United Kingdom have led to a drop in plastic bags used by 60 per cent to 90 per cent, said Dr Khor.
The authorities will monitor the effectiveness of the bag charge at supermarkets from July and assess the need to expand mandatory coverage to other stores in the future, she added.
To spread the word about the upcoming carrier bag charge at supermarkets and encourage shoppers to switch to reusable bags, environmental group Zero Waste SG has been running weekend roadshows at different supermarkets since Feb 11. Shoppers who have spare reusable shopping bags at home can drop them off at their “Bring Your Own Bag” booth so that families who need them can pick them up.