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Potential Plastic Bag Charges Divides Singaporean Netizens, Proves There Are 2 Kinds Of People

What do Singaporean netizens care about?

Apparently, charges on plastic bags used during supermarket shopping trips.

According to a report on Channel NewsAsia at around 10pm last night, “local supermarket chains could impose a plastic bag charge if there is an industry-wide effort to implement one”.

The statement comes as a response to environmental group Zero Waste’s call for the Government to introduce charges on the use of plastic bags among Singaporeans.

Executive director of Zero Waste, Mr Eugene Tay, said: “If there is a charge [for plastic bags] then people will start thinking about how can they reduce the plastic bags that they take.”

The group proposed that retailers charge their customers 10 cents and 5 cents for large and smaller plastic bags respectively, which already sparked discussions on Facebook on the feasibility of the solution.

For example, a netizen said, “Most dwellers use plastic bags to recycle as trash bag. Imagine them dumping trash directly into our rubbish chutes. It would be environmentally unhygienic when the waste foods start rotting inside.”

On the Government side, Member of Parliament Lee Bee Wah, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Environment and Water Resources firmly stated that it should be the big supermarkets’ duty to carry out this proposal, as “The Government should look at education; look at bigger issues on the environment, not just plastic bags, per se.”

Spokespeople from the Dairy Farm group (which owns Cold Storage and Giant), and NTUC FairPrice have come forward to tell CNA that at the moment, they already have incentives and efforts in place to reduce the dependence on plastic bags by their shoppers.

NTUC's"Bring Your Own Bag, FairPrice Green Rewards Scheme" / Image Credit: TODAY
NTUC’s”Bring Your Own Bag, FairPrice Green Rewards Scheme” / Image Credit: TODAY

Singaporeans are said to use a whopping 2.5 billion plastic bags each year, and according to statistics from the National Environment Agency’s website, 824,600 tonnes of plastic waste were generated in 2015.

From the latest report, it does seem like these big supermarket chains have decided to respond, albeit without promising anything concrete, to the proposal.

Singaporean Netizens Debate

In response to the news, netizens seem to be somewhat divided.

One begged for others to look at the “bigger issue” as compared to potential inconveniences:

"The rubbish thrown down the chute doesn't just disappear into thin air y'know."
“The rubbish thrown down the chute doesn’t just disappear into thin air y’know.”

Some have mentioned how it is “long overdue”, and suggested ways that the implementation can be carried out:

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-11-28-17-am
“[…] Provide one or two reusable shopping bags to the low income group.”
screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-11-32-03-am
“For those who [don’t request for plastic bags], you pay them instead.”

One called for the Government to take the lead, in light of other nations already taking nationwide steps to reduce plastic waste:

"So come on Singapore Government [...]
“So come on Singapore Government […] make it compulsory across the industry”
screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-11-28-27-am
“Adding charges to [the] consumer is definitely not the way to go.”

However, some are adamantly against the potential changes, and have spoken out strongly against it:

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-11-28-39-am
“Don’t buy the hype”
screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-11-28-54-am
“[It’s utter] nonsense.”

Regardless, the sentiments can be accurately summarised in this particular thread, and the number of ‘likes’ for each polarising comment:

Screenshot from CNA's Facebook page
Screenshot from CNA’s Facebook page

Online Grocery Providers Can Be Pioneers In Environmentally-Friendly Practices 

What’s interesting though, is the fact that a few have taken to the news as even more reason to grocery shop online.

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-11-42-30-am
Netizen cites saving time and money on taxi rides

The online grocery shopping scene is a highly competitive one, with honestbee and RedMart being among the few big players in the (pun intended) market.

honestbee team / Image Credit: Vulcan Post
honestbee team / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

An increasing number of Singaporeans, even without the plastic bag charge fiasco, have been turning to these online providers due to the convenience that comes with the services, especially in light of their busy schedules and the need for a means of transport after an intense grocery shopping session.

Perhaps then, these providers can be the pioneers in encouraging environmentally-friendly practices, and use recyclable bags for their clients’ purchases.

Regardless, the issue seems to be still in pending mode, and there’s no certainty on what the verdict will be.

What do you think about the potential charges? Let us know!

 

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