FairPrice customers no longer have to pay plastic bag surcharge at 7 outlets

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

印度发明环保的塑料降解方法

印度研究人员发明了一种环保的塑料降解法,只需将塑料放在含有葡萄糖和金属离子的70摄氏度溶液中,连续搅拌数天,就可将塑料降解成分子。

由印度理工学院马德拉斯分校研究人员主导的团队发现,新方法可用于降解聚四氟乙烯等塑料材料。

新华社报道,聚四氟乙烯是一种具有耐热性、化学惰性、绝缘稳定性和低摩擦性的高性能材料。研究人员首先把一个涂有聚四氟乙烯的磁性搅拌器,放进70摄氏度溶液中连续搅拌15天,溶液中里含有金属离子和1000ppm的葡萄糖(1ppm为百万分之一)。研究人员随后在溶液表面发现漂浮着带有亮红色发光的微小碎片。结果证明,这些明亮的微小粒子中含有聚四氟乙烯聚合物的分子碎片。

研究还发现,在没有搅拌、葡萄糖或金属离子情况下,聚四氟乙烯没有出现这种降解现象;在室温下,降解速率则降低;随着溶液中葡萄糖含量增加,对聚四氟乙烯的降解作用会增强。

研究人员提醒说,由于许多现代炊具上都涂有聚四氟乙烯,类似的化学反应也可能会发生在炊具上,导致食物中含有微塑料。同样,这种摩擦电降解过程也可能发生在海洋中,海洋中有大量金属离子,波浪提供持续搅动,因此可能成为海洋微塑料产生的途径之一。

Source: Zaobao

利用造纸废弃物 新科研成功研发环保塑料

造纸过程中,木材经浸泡分解后留下的木质素一般没太大用途,但新科研的一组团队经过四五年钻研,终成功让它能同塑胶原料结合以形成一种既坚固又可自然分解的新环保塑料。

本地科研团队成功破解一组聚合物分子密码,把造纸过程中产生的一种废弃物制成环保塑料,日后若获大量使用将有助我国进一步减低废弃排量。

造纸过程中,木材经浸泡分解后留下的木质素(lignin)一般没太大用途,一些业者会取约5%分量用为混凝土添加物,其余则透过焚烧等方式销毁,但过程中可能产生有毒气体,污染环境。

新加坡科技研究局(A*STAR)的材料研究与工程研究院团队经过四五年钻研,成功破解木质素聚合原体密码,让它能同塑胶原料结合以形成一种既坚固又可生物降解(bio-degradable)的环保塑料。

这种材料埋入土中,可自然地分解化为水分及碳纤维,不会对环境造成伤害。

研究负责人之一凯聃(念“丹”)受访时说:“木质素的原体构造意味着它本来不能与其他物质结合,我们经多番测试后,终于研发出一种添加物,让木质素‘长出手脚’,可同极少量的塑料原体结合以形成一种新的环保材料。”

他进一步解释说:“一般塑料品掺有对环境造成污染的石油体物质,我们让木质素能同塑料的其他分子结合以成为坚固的材料,能大幅减低石油体这类非环保物质的含量,制作出真正环保,对环境无害的材料。”

这类可生物降解的材料比一般普通的塑料更为坚固,适合用作化学物质容器或家具构造等。不过,由于木质素的基体颜色为接近黑色的深褐色,这款材料因此较不适合用来制造餐具等物品。

不过,凯聃指出,也因为这个原因,木质素有望加工成为天然的防晒产品,包括防晒膜以及防晒膏等。

他说:“我们已找出让木质素同其他物质结合的配方,开启了将这种材料制作成其他产品的可能性。不过,我们现阶段仍处研究初期,必须再钻研,以调配出安全及稳定性符合有关标准的材料,才能将它制作成防晒膏等产品。”

盼五年内让环保塑料面市

新科研材料研究与工程研究院软性材料系主任罗贤俊博士透露,新科研已同一些厂商洽谈合作机会,希望在五年内将用木质素制成的塑料及皮肤用品推出市面。

他说:“木质素原材料成本虽然低,但我们透过高科技钻研技术,让它能形成一个可用性高的环保材料。所以,与其制作一般的塑料品,我们更希望突显这个创新材料的价值,用它制作皮肤用品、防晒膏或化学容器等较高价值、使用率较长久的产品。”

Source: Zaobao

河道上清理垃圾 泰12岁少女成功说服企业减塑

泰国是全球第六大海洋污染源,其中塑料废弃物是一大祸害。当地人每人每年平均用掉3000个一次性塑料袋,使用量是欧盟的12倍。减少塑料废弃物刻不容缓,当地一名少女自发发起环保净化行动,还成功说服企业响应。

记者采访12岁莉莉当天,她刚花了一小时划着冲浪板,在曼谷一条污浊的河道上捡拾瓶罐、塑料袋等垃圾。她经常这么做,有时还逃课捡垃圾。

性格开朗的莉莉说:“我是一个正在进行战斗的孩童。我尽量保持乐观,但也不免感到气愤。我们的地球正在消失中。”

今年6月,莉莉终于初尝胜利的果实。曼谷一家大型超市被她说服,决定每周一天不向购物者提供塑料袋。“我对自己说,如果政府不理睬我,我就直接和发放塑料袋的人谈,劝服他们停止这么做。”

本月一些大商家如7-11便利店承诺,从明年1月起,停止提供塑料袋。

联合国环境部化学、废物和空气质量区域协调员吉田嘉久子说:“或许你可以对世界上所有的证据和论说视若无睹,但当一个孩子问你为什么正在糟蹋我们居住的地球时,你很难对她不予理会。”

莉莉八岁那年在泰国南部海边度假时,看到沙滩上布满垃圾,很是震惊。她回忆说:“我和父母一起捡垃圾,但作用不大,因为第二天又有人把垃圾扔在岸边。”

环保分子:最大阻力来自石油化工业

16岁瑞典少女谭伯格去年起,为抗议气候变暖而发起的全球罢课示威行动,激励了莉莉,她也到泰国政府办公楼前静坐示威。她说:“谭伯格给了我信心。当大人只会袖手旁观时,我们小孩不得不采取行动。”

莉莉的孤勇赢得了赞赏,不过,有环保分子指出,她面对的是庞大的企业利益,任重道远。最大的阻力来自塑料使用量庞大的石油化工业,这个行业占了泰国国内生产总值的5%,提供数以万计就业机会。

一家将废物制成凉鞋的公司老板纳塔蓬指出:“莉莉是代表国内青年的一把有力声音,但游说团体势力非常强大,要推动改变极为困难。”

莉莉对环保的热忱,获得父母鼎力支持,父母亲还帮她准备对联合国和政府官员发布的演讲稿。莉莉的母亲也曾是环保活跃分子,她说:“我原本以为这只是孩子一时兴起,但莉莉却一直坚持下去,所以我决定支持她。”

Source: Zaobao

Many consumers supportive of new plastic bag surcharge at some FairPrice outlets

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.

CONSUMERS REACT

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

FairPrice to charge for plastic bags, McDonald’s to stop providing plastic straws at some outlets

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