S'poreans weigh in: Is charging 5 cents for plastic bags going to save the environment? , Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

S'poreans weigh in: Is charging 5 cents for plastic bags going to save the environment?

As major supermarkets start to charge for plastic bags, Singaporeans TNP spoke to have mixed views on how effective the move is in saving the environment.

While some people felt it was a positive change, others were not so convinced.  

Ms Amelia, 27, who was buying groceries at Cold Storage supermarket at Novena Square, said, “I never really brought a reusable bag before but from now on I definitely will.

“Besides less plastic being used, I think this new rule will also make Singaporeans reflect on the state of our environment. Makes them think, why does the government think it is important enough to introduce this?” continued the Masters student at the National University of Singapore.

Ms Heidi Chia, 51, a secondary school teacher, who was at FairPrice Junction 8, felt that 5 cents is just the right amount to charge per bag. 

“I think this amount is good, enough to make people bring their own bag. But if they forget, it’s okay. It’s just 5 cents. (Just) remember next time.”

But some other customers had concerns. 

Besides forgetting to bring a reusable bag whenever they go to a major supermarket, the issue of bagging trash stood out to them. 

“I think this is a good move for the environment. Maybe not (for) customers, but good for the environment,” said Mr Hong Teck Soo, 45, a banker. “I’m more worried for my mum as she is old and can be forgetful.”

Ms Stephanie Teo, 50, a new employee of Cold Storage at Novena Square, overheard some “customers complaining that they now have to buy their own garbage bags". 

Without plastic bags from supermarkets, the Singaporean habit of using them to bag waste may now change as more people may have to buy garbage bags off the shelf.

Ms Teo, who has been using a reusable bag for a year, has found herself shelling out money for garbage bags as she no longer has enough used ones at home.

Even Ms Chia has the same issue. 

“I guess I have to go buy plastic bags or use bags from other things like shopping," she said.

Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, Dr Amy Khor, has announced a recycling box for collection from vending machines later this month to alleviate the need for disposable plastic bags, and Mr Andrew Yeo, of Zero Waste SG, has suggested alternatives such as empty bread bags and other types of packaging.

NTUC FairPrice reported that plastic bag usage has halved since it began charging for them four years ago. 

As this charge extends to all major supermarket chains, the new rule could be an effective way to lower waste consumption in the long run.

Ultimately, it will be up to Singaporeans to decide their daily habits, environmentally conscious or not.