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Customers will no longer have to pay a plastic bag surcharge at the seven FairPrice supermarkets involved in the chain’s month-long “no plastic bag” trial, which ended on Wednesday (Oct 16).
But FairPrice said it was too early to reveal the results of the trial, which also involved a consumer sentiment survey, saying more updates will be available next month.
A spokesman thanked customers for supporting the initiative to reduce the amount of plastic bags taken, and added that the survey findings and consumer feedback will be studied and analysed “to develop a well-informed and sustainable action plan to reduce plastic bag use”.
However, she added: “Customers will not be charged at the seven stores that were involved in the trial upon its conclusion on Wednesday.”
Amid growing global awareness about the excessive use of single-use plastics including plastic bags, FairPrice launched its month-long “no plastic bag” trial on Sept 16 at several of its outlets.
As part of the trial, customers were charged 10 cents or 20 cents for every transaction in which they took plastic bags at seven FairPrice and Cheers outlets.
These were FairPrice Xtra at Hougang One outlet, FairPrice Finest at Zhongshan Park mall, FairPrice at Maple Tree 18 mall, Cheers outlets at Sengkang Community Hospital and in Create Way and Aljunied Road, and FairPrice Xpress in Lorong Chuan.
Shoppers who wanted plastic bags had to pay 20 cents per transaction at the FairPrice, FairPrice Finest and FairPrice Xtra stores, and 10 cents per transaction at the Cheers and FairPrice Xpress stores.
The money was donated to the Singapore Children’s Society and The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund.
When the trial was first launched, The Straits Times spoke to over 30 customers across several outlets and found that most were supportive of the move to charge for plastic bags.
Shoppers of all ages were seen whipping out foldable reusable bags or taking along trolleys with them on their grocery runs.
However, the reaction on social media was different, with many commentators saying that they would simply throw rubbish down the chute if they were not given plastic bags for free.
Ms Pamela Low of the Singapore Youth for Climate Action environmental group said she commended FairPrice’s willingness to start the trial to charge people for plastic bags “in its efforts to be a responsible retailer contributing to Singapore’s push towards zero-waste”.
Under new zero-waste targets revealed by the Government in August, Singapore wants to send 30 per cent less waste to its only landfill on Semakau Island by 2030.
On comments that plastic bags are needed to bag rubbish, Ms Low agreed, saying: “I use plastic bags for wet trash too and we should still continue to bag our trash to avoid pest issues, given our high-rise infrastructure.”
However, she said that if FairPrice’s trial to reduce plastic bag uptake was successful, the supermarket chain could consider complementing the charge with a rebate scheme, in which customers who do not take bags get discounts on their purchases.
Said Ms Low: “I’m optimistic the trial will prove effective in helping Singaporeans save money and plastic bags.”
Source: The Straits Times
It was business as usual on Monday morning (Sept 16) at the FairPrice Xtra supermarket at Hougang One mall, with one difference.
At some check-out counters, cashiers bagged items not in FairPrice’s signature white-blue-red plastic bags but in reusable bags, trolleys and even backpacks.
One shopper was even seen dashing out of the store holding a bag of salmon, without placing the fish in another plastic bag as people generally do.
Monday marked the start of a month-long “no plastic bag” trial by the supermarket chain at several of its outlets.
As part of the trial – launched amid growing global awareness about the excessive use of single-use disposables, including plastics – customers are charged 10 cents or 20 cents for every transaction in which they take plastic bags at seven FairPrice and Cheers outlets.
Besides the Hougang One outlet, the other six stores involved in the trial are FairPrice Finest at Zhongshan Park mall, FairPrice at Maple Tree 18 mall, Cheers outlets at Sengkang Community Hospital and in Create Way and Aljunied Road, and FairPrice Xpress in Lorong Chuan.
Shoppers who want plastic bags have to pay 20 cents per transaction at the FairPrice, FairPrice Finest and FairPrice Xtra stores, and 10 cents per transaction at the Cheers and FairPrice Xpress stores.
The money will be donated to the Singapore Children’s Society and The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund.
Healthcare assistant Ms Ik Ling shares her thoughts on the FairPrice no plastic bag initiative
The Straits Times spoke to over 30 customers across several outlets and found that most were supportive of the move to charge for plastic bags.
Mr Charles Yap, 64, had his own trolley for his grocery run at FairPrice Xtra at Hougang One.
“It’s a good thing that they are charging the 20 cents. Don’t waste so much plastic. It’s not too much of a hassle and it’s much better for the environment,” said Mr Yap, who is currently unemployed.
He was one of many shoppers across affected FairPrice and Cheers outlets who supported the initiative, even though some of them still took plastic bags.
At Hougang One, retired delivery man Thomas Ng, 70, had a trolley full of groceries packed in at least 10 plastic bags.
He told ST in Mandarin that bags were still needed so delicate produce like vegetables and bread would not get squashed.
But he said he was not upset at having to pay the 20 cents, since the Pioneer Generation discount he gets when shopping at FairPrice on Mondays could offset the amount.
Mr Ng added: “I read in the papers that the charge will start today, but I forgot to bring my own bag. Twenty cents is not so bad, but if I’m charged 10 cents per bag, then it could add up, and I will have to remember to bring my own bags.”
At the Cheers outlet along Aljunied Road, business owner Marcus Goh, 47, said he took no issue with a surcharge.
“It’s actually good for the country because it’s going green and I think vendors are already charging for bags, so I can accept that. It’s not a problem.”
But several shoppers, used to getting plastic carriers for free, were unhappy.
At the FairPrice branch at Maple Tree 18 in Tai Seng, a retiree in his 70s, who wanted to be known only as Mr Yap, said he did not know about the scheme until he paid for his groceries. He ended up putting his groceries in a bag his wife had with her.
He said he was upset by the initiative and felt it was a bad idea.
He added that the counter staff had told him the money collected from the charge would go to charity, but said in Mandarin: “NTUC already earns so much that they can give to charity, why do they need to charge us for it.”
A plastic bag surcharge has been a topic of discussion in Singapore as the Republic focuses more on the need to tackle climate change by reducing the consumption of resources. Plastic bags are made from crude oil and natural gas – fossil fuels that contribute to climate change. They are also a major cause of pollution worldwide, particularly marine pollution.
This year has also been designated by the Government as the Year Towards Zero Waste in Singapore.
Even though a plastic bag surcharge is not a plastic bag ban, some customers claim they should not have to pay for bags which they can use again to dispose of rubbish, for instance.
Said Ms Sonia Foo, 47, a senior manager of a charity: “All these plastic bags are not wasted because they are bundled up and thrown away with our refuse. It’s not fair. That means we have to buy our own refuse bags to throw.”
Ms Foo, who ended up paying the 20 cents at the FairPrice branch at Zhongshan Mall, added: “It will upset the public, especially the elderly, because they are so used to taking plastic bags.”
Many said it would be hard to change old habits.
Mr Loke Kah Chow, 82, a retired printing business assistant, had his own bags for grocery shopping at the FairPrice outlet at Zhongshan Mall.
He said: “It’s 20 cents for so many plastic bags. That’s good. If it’s 20 cents per bag, it’s too expensive.
“It’s very hard to help the environmental cause. If you don’t use the plastic bags, others will use. People can’t do without them – it’s become a habit.”
But Mr Kohodai Dada, 39, a software engineer from Papua New Guinea who has lived here since 2014, noted that efforts to charge for plastic bags can shape people’s consciousness and the way they act.
“Just talking about it changes our shopping habits and behaviour… Where I come from, it’s a tradition, our parents taught us to recycle, so we do it,” he said.
“I think it’s a good thing. I’m from the Pacific and we see first hand what it does to our marine life,” added Mr Dada, who has been living in Singapore since 2014.
Asked why the decision was made to impose a surcharge on a per-transaction basis instead of charging customers for every bag taken, NTUC FairPrice chief executive Seah Kian Peng said it was to keep things simple for customers.
The plastic bag situation in Singapore is different from that in other countries, he said.
“Plastic bags in Singapore do have a use. How we get rid of plastic bags here is also different from how other countries dispose of their bags,” he pointed out.
In Singapore, plastics are incinerated before being sent to the landfill, reducing the likelihood of stray bags finding their way into waterways.
Mr Seah said that through the trial, the supermarket chain wanted to convey two key messages.
“Can we first try to bring our own? And if we do need plastic bags, can we take the minimum number, instead of the maximum?”
He added that public awareness and education is important. “The real success is when each and everyone of us realise that we have a part to play,” he said.
A consumer sentiment study on plastic bag usage was also rolled out on Monday, to collect data on shoppers’ behaviour and gather feedback on reducing plastic bag use.
Mr Seah said: “At the end of this one-month trial, we will put all this together to see how we should re-work, re-package, or come out with a new scheme for implementation across the island.”
Source: The Straits Times
Supermarket giant NTUC FairPrice and fast-food chain McDonald’s have jumped on the eco-friendly bandwagon.
Both companies announced on Wednesday (Sept 4) that they will be trialling initiatives to cut down on plastic bags and plastic packaging.
NTUC FairPrice will start charging 10 cents and 20 cents for plastic bags at seven outlets in a month-long trial, starting from Sept 16.
The “No Plastic Bag” trial will encourage shoppers to use their own bags, FairPrice said in a statement on Wednesday.
The seven stores are FairPrice Xtra at Hougang One mall, FairPrice Finest at Zhongshan Park mall, FairPrice at 18 Tai Seng mall, FairPrice Xpress in Lorong Chuan and Cheers outlets at Sengkang Community Hospital and in Create Way and Aljunied Road.
Shoppers who want plastic bags will have to pay 20 cents per transaction at FairPrice, FairPrice Finest and FairPrice Xtra stores, and 10 cents per transaction at Cheers and FairPrice Xpress stores. Those who make the payment can use more than one plastic bag only if they buy enough items. FairPrice will donate the collection to the Singapore Children’s Society and The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund.
Over at McDonald’s, 10 outlets have stopped carrying plastic straws and have replaced certain single-use plastic items with more sustainable alternatives. This trial started on Sept 1 and will last for the month.
According to a McDonald’s spokesman, the 10 outlets have switched the plastic packaging for their McFlurry cups and saucers to food-grade paper packaging, and are using cutlery and stirrers made from food-grade wood material.
The McDonald’s outlets involved in the trial are located at V-Hotel, Potong Pasir, Lot One, Jurong Green Community Club, Raffles City Shopping Centre, Bendemeer, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3, Toa Payoh Central, Boat Quay and SpringLeaf Tower.
The spokesman said no replacement straws would be offered for now, and that McDonald’s would monitor consumer sentiment.
“During this period, we will monitor the sentiments of our valued customers closely and keep track of its feasibility in Singapore before making the decision to implement this change in all our restaurants islandwide,” the spokesman said.
The trial is part of the fast-food chain’s approach to “drive environmentally sustainable practices in our restaurants, including packaging, energy efficiency, waste management and green restaurant design”.
FairPrice will also be conducting a consumer sentiment survey on plastic bag usage alongside its trial.
NTUC FairPrice chief executive officer Seah Kian Peng said: “The insights we gain from this trial and the consumer sentiment study will help in developing a well-informed, measured and sustainable actionable plan to reduce plastic bag use.”
FairPrice also announced on Wednesday that it is inviting Singaporeans to submit proposals to reduce plastic and food waste in Singapore. It will be launching a new $1 million FairPrice Sustainability Fund to sponsor accepted projects.
FairPrice said that these environmental initiatives will get it closer to its target of saving 30 million plastic bags each year by 2030.
Shoppers that ST spoke to said they would not mind paying for plastic bags.
Manager Esther Tor, 61, said she uses the plastic bags from her supermarket shopping trips to line her trash bin at home.
“Since I need them for rubbish, I don’t mind paying. The charge will also help me to remember to bring my own bag if I don’t need any more plastic bags,” she said.
Editor Sheri Goh, 43, said it is about time that supermarkets charge for bags.
“We should pay for them if we want them. Many other countries like Australia and Holland have been charging for plastic bags for years already,” she said, adding that free plastic bags have always been a privilege but not a right.
These initiatives come on the back of earlier efforts by various supermarket chains to encourage more environmentally-friendly habits among customers, especially with greater awareness of the impact of human actions on our surroundings.
In July this year, eight supermarket outlets – two of each from Cold Storage, FairPrice, Prime Supermarket and Sheng Siong – placed donation bins in their vincinities to collect unused reusable bags from patrons. After ensuring they were in good condition, these outlets redistributed the bags collected for shoppers’ use.
Last December, four supermaket operators – FairPrice, Dairy Farm Group, Prime Group and Sheng Siong – also held a series of roadshows to encourage consumers to use reusable bags in the One Less Plastic campaign.
Besides supermarkets, other businesses have also attempted to tackle excessive plastic waste by charging customers for plastic bags.
Notably, fashion giant H&M announced in July it would start charging customers for each plastic or paper bag used.
These efforts are in line with Singapore’s Year Towards Zero Waste this year, which aims to raise awareness of the need to reduce wastage.
Source: The Straits Times