Singapore's public waste collectors have not observed any changes in the way households dispose of their waste, since the mandatory plastic bag charge was implemented in July 2023.
Plastic bags at most supermarkets, including NTUC FairPrice, Cold Storage, Giant, Sheng Siong and Prime, now cost at least 5 cents each.
In response to previous news that the charge has led to a drop in plastic bag usage at supermarkets, some netizens in the comments section posed the idea that there might be more people now throwing their waste without bagging it.
Others have suggested that there will be an increase in purchases of garbage bags.
On Feb. 5, Member of Parliament (MP) Rachel Ong asked if a survey has been conducted on the impact of the plastic bag charge in terms of how households bag their trash.
Ong questioned if there has been an increase in the purchase of plastic garbage bags instead since the implementation of the charge, and if tracking these purchases is possible.
Ong also asked what is being done to support and educate households to reduce the use of plastic bags for bagging trash and its alternatives.
Households continue to bag waste before throwing
Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu responded in a written reply that public waste collectors have not observed any changes in Singaporean's waste disposal habits.
"Households have continued to bag their waste before throwing it down the rubbish chutes," she said.
Fu added that the government currently does not track the sales of trash or garbage bags.
However, the National Environment Agency (NEA) will monitor households’ waste disposal habits.
The impact of the plastic bag charge will be reviewed a year after its implementation, which would be around mid-2024.
Plastic bag use at supermarkets dropped
Previously, on Jan. 10, Fu revealed that the plastic bag charge has successfully led to a reduction in plastic bag usage at supermarkets, and that the 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.
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.
Top photo from rancidangel / Reddit