Singapore

Biggest local supermarket chains say plastic bag use has dropped

This article is more than 12 months old

FairPrice and Dairy Farm say they saved millions of bags last year

Even as the latest poll numbers show nearly half of all plastic items used each year are supermarket plastic bags, the largest chains here are reporting a decrease in their use.

NTUC FairPrice said it saved 11.5 million bags last year - an increase from 10.9 million in 2016 - from customers bringing their own bags. It said it aimed to triple the number of plastic bags saved to about 30 million a year, while ending yesterday its practice of giving 10 cents to customers who have their own bags.

Dairy Farm - which manages Cold Storage, Giant and Guardian stores - said its customers used nine million fewer plastic bags last year than in 2016.

Single-use supermarket plastic bags contributed 820 million to the 1.76 billion plastic items used yearly in Singapore, said the Singapore Environment Council on Tuesday.

FairPrice corporate communications and brand director Jonas Kor said previously its rebate would be scrapped as the number of bags saved has stagnated in the past three years, stopping a significant upward trend since the Green Rewards Scheme started in 2007.

"We hit a plateau and need to rethink how we manage plastic bags," he said.

Mr Kor said the chain would aim for further reductions through "a more holistic and comprehensive approach".

This could include training for cashiers on packing groceries more efficiently and customer education.

Customer behaviour is also the focus for Dairy Farm.

Its spokesman said: "Education on the importance of sustainability and environmental benefits of using fewer plastic bags is key to encouraging consumers in Singapore to embrace a 'no plastic bag culture'. "

Sheng Siong said there was no change in the number of bags used last year compared with the previous few years.

The three chains own the majority of supermarkets here.

A Sheng Siong spokesman said besides encouraging shoppers to use fewer bags, it is reviewing operating procedures and speaking with workers to understand the challenges of reducing plastic bag use.

Education on the importance of sustainability and environmental benefits of using fewer plastic bags is key to encouraging consumers in Singapore to embrace a ‘no plastic bag culture’. Dairy Farm spokesman

A World Wide Fund for Nature Singapore spokesman said: "It is encouraging that some supermarkets are reporting a drop in plastic bags used, but businesses have to take more responsibility to reduce demand.

"For example, a levy has been proven to work in many markets around the world. A levy would send the message that there is a price that plastics come at - and that we must account for that price."

Few retailers in Singapore charge for plastic bags. Those that do include Miniso and Bossini.

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