The scheme aims to discourage the excessive use of disposable carrier bags and promote the use of reusables.
Singapore, 27 January 2022 – The National Environment Agency (NEA) invites the public to share their views on REACH on the proposed policy for supermarkets to impose a minimum charge for disposable carrier bags that they hand out at their check-out counters. The disposable carrier bag charge is intended to discourage the excessive consumption of disposable carrier bags and promote the use of reusable bags. This will help reduce the amount of disposable carrier bags taken and ultimately disposed of in Singapore.
2 A bag charge in Singapore will therefore contribute towards our objective in the Singapore Green Plan 2030 to reduce the amount of waste to landfill per capita per day by 20 per cent by 2026 and 30 per cent by 2030. In 2019 and 2020, households and trade premises in Singapore threw away about 200,000 tonnes of disposables annually, with disposable bags making up approximately two-thirds of this. This amount can fill up about 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools. A 2018 study by the Singapore Environment Council further found that shoppers take 820 million disposable carrier bags from supermarkets alone a year, an average of 146 bags per person. Such excessive consumption is unsustainable. It not only uses up resources, but also adds to Singapore’s carbon emissions when they are incinerated in our waste-to-energy plants.
3 Since 2019, NEA has been running the ‘Say YES to Waste Less’ campaign, which is aimed at increasing public awareness on the need to reduce excessive consumption of disposables and on simple actions that can be taken to do so. Some supermarket operators and retailers have also taken the lead and voluntarily implemented bag charges.
4 Excessive consumption of disposable carrier bags can be reduced if all the key stakeholders work together on nudges to change mindsets, habits, and behaviour. Many jurisdictions overseas that have implemented disposable carrier bag charges have seen positive results. For example, bag charges in Hong Kong, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands have reduced consumption of disposable bags by about 60 to 90 per cent.
Developing the Policy
5 To address the excessive consumption of disposables, the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) and NEA convened a Citizens’ Workgroup in September 2020, comprising 55 members of the public from diverse backgrounds. In January 2021, the Workgroup provided its recommendations, which included charging for disposable carrier bags. After careful deliberation of the Workgroup’s recommendations, MSE and NEA announced our responses in April 2021, and agreed to develop an appropriate charging model for disposable carrier bags at supermarkets in Singapore.
6 NEA has consulted over 1,000 stakeholders when developing the policy proposal for the disposable carrier bag charge at supermarkets. The consultation was done through a variety of platforms, such as focus group discussions, industry and public consultation sessions, and surveys.
7 NEA has also studied the experiences of jurisdictions overseas. Over 150 countries and jurisdictions, including some states in Malaysia, have already implemented or will be implementing a charge or ban on disposable carrier bags or single-use plastic bags. In Hong Kong, the Netherlands, and Taiwan, a plastic bag charge resulted in about 80 per cent, 70 per cent, and 60 per cent decrease respectively in the number of plastic bags given out. A disposable bag charge in the United Kingdom achieved between 70 to 95 per cent reduction in the number of disposable bags used. About 70 per cent of Japanese shoppers refused plastic bags after a charge was imposed in Japan.
8 Based on the feedback gathered and overseas case studies, NEA has developed the details of the proposed disposable carrier bag charge, as outlined in the public consultation paper on REACH. NEA is now seeking views from the public on topics such as the proposed charging model, amount to be charged, coverage of the scheme, and the implementation timeline. A summary of the proposals for feedback can be viewed in the Annex.
9 The public can provide their suggestions at https://go.gov.sg/feedbackcarrierbagchargepr. The consultation will be open from 27 January 2022 to 17 February 2022. All responses received by the closing date will be considered by NEA. A final report summarising the submissions and NEA’s responses will be published in due course.
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Summary of REACH Consultation Details for Public Feedback
|Detail of Policy ||Proposal|
|Charging model ||For supermarket operators to stipulate a minimum charge per bag. This is so that the charge amount paid will be proportional to the number of disposable carrier bags taken. |
|Charging amount ||Minimum charge of 5 to 10 cents per bag. This is to strike a balance between nudging shoppers to reduce the number of disposable carrier bags they take and minimising the cost impact on shoppers who make large purchases and lower-income households. |
|Coverage of supermarket operators ||To subject supermarket operators with annual revenue above a stipulated threshold to the legislative requirements. The threshold stipulated should cover a majority of supermarkets in Singapore.|
|Whether to apply charge to online purchases ||For the disposable carrier bag charge to only apply to purchases made in-store at supermarket outlets. As customers do not have the option of bringing their own bags for online grocery purchases and have little say on the number of bags used to package their purchases, no charge is proposed for such purchases. |
|Tracking and reporting of information ||For supermarket operators to track and publicly disclose the number of bags they issue, the amount of charge proceeds they collect, and how they use the charge proceeds. |
|Implementation period ||For the mandatory disposable carrier bag charge at supermarkets to take effect by the first half of 2023. This will help contribute towards our objective in the Singapore Green Plan 2030 to reduce the amount of waste to landfill per capita per day by 20 per cent by 2026, while providing sufficient time for the industry to prepare for implementation.|