Plastic bag use at supermarkets down by 50%-80% since charge implemented in Jul. 2023

Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu said the plastic bag charge has "generally been well-received".

Ashley Tan | January 10, 2024, 11:23 AM



The plastic bag charge, which was implemented on Jul. 3, 2023, has led to a reduction in plastic bag usage at Singapore supermarkets, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu said on Jan. 9, 2024.

Fu's reply was in response to a parliamentary question by Member of Parliament (MP) Foo Mee Har about the efficacy of the plastic bag charge.

Consumers are now charged at least 5 cents for each disposable carrier bag at most supermarkets, including NTUC FairPrice, Cold Storage, Giant, Sheng Siong and Prime supermarket outlets.

Reduction in usage

Fu shared that the plastic bag charge has "generally been well-received".

Since its implementation, the larger supermarket operators have seen a 50 to 80 per cent reduction in the number of plastic bags consumers have taken.

The plastic bag charge is a "behavioural nudge" that encourages consumers to adopt more sustainable habits.

This, Fu said, will hopefully lead to wider behavioural change.

As the plastic bag charge has only been in place for less than a year, Fu elaborated that it may be too early to tell if it has led to an increase in participation in other recycling initiatives.

"It is also difficult to directly attribute any changes in recycling habits to the bag charge, as the charge focuses on reducing usage rather than recycling," she added.

Proceeds will support environmental and social causes

"We are heartened that the supermarket operators have also indicated that they intend to use the proceeds from the bag charge to support environmental or social causes," Fu said.

Most supermarket chains are currently utilising an honour system when charging for plastic bags.

Shoppers who use self-checkout counters have to scan a barcode manually for every plastic bag they take.

Some retailers, including large convenience store chains such as 7-Eleven and Cheers, are already charging for bags voluntarily.

Top photo by Fiona Tan