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FairPrice trusts shoppers to pay for plastic bags from July 3

This article is more than 12 months old

FairPrice customers will be trusted to scan a barcode to pay five cents for every plastic bag they take at self-checkout counters from July 3, when the mandatory plastic bag charge kicks in for major supermarket chains.

There are no plans to add more staff at self-checkout counters to ensure that customers comply, said FairPrice Group chief sustainability officer Chan Tee Seng.

“For now, we want to focus on making it seamless, easy, and not too bureaucratic,” he told reporters after Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Amy Khor visited a FairPrice outlet in Bukit Batok West.

“Which is why we have decided to implement an honour system. So we will allow the customers to scan the barcode themselves. If they’ve taken five bags, then they scan it five times. And we believe that by and large, many of our customers will do the right thing.” 

FairPrice is now focused on training front-line staff, such as cashiers, to explain the environmental reason for the plastic bag charge.

Details of how the funds collected from the five cent charge will be used for environmental or social causes will be made known in about 18 months, said Mr Chan.

Currently, 11 FairPrice outlets charge 20 cents per transaction when plastic bags are requested at the cashier, regardless of how many bags are used. At 178 convenience shops run by FairPrice, including Cheers and FairPrice Xpress outlets, the charge per transaction is 10 cents.

The mandatory charge of five cents per bag, regardless of the size of the bag, will be applied at all supermarkets as well as convenience stores, where bags are smaller than those at supermarkets.

Dr Khor reiterated hopes that the bag charge, which is similar to schemes in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Britain, will reduce plastic bag use by 60 to 90 per cent. 

Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Amy Khor hopes that the bag charge would reduce plastic bag use by 60 to 90 per cent. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

About 400 major supermarkets – or two-thirds of all outlets here – will charge for disposable shopping bags. They include FairPrice, Cold Storage, Giant, Sheng Siong and Prime supermarket stores.

The Straits Times has contacted other supermarket chains for comments.

Plastic pollutionSUPERMARKETSRETAIL