Singapore supermarkets to start charging for disposable carrier bags from 3 July

About 400 supermarket outlets will be applying the charge of at least 5 cents for each disposable bag

A woman packs her grocery shopping in disposable bags outside a supermarket in Singapore.
A woman packs her grocery shopping in disposable bags outside a supermarket in Singapore. (PHOTO: Reuters/Edgar Su)

SINGAPORE — The move for most supermarkets to charge shoppers at least 5 cents for each disposable carrier bag will begin on 3 July.

The start date was announced by Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Amy Khor in Parliament on Thursday (2 March), during her ministry's Committee of Supply debate.

About 400 supermarket outlets - or two-thirds of all outlets here - will be applying the charge for disposable shopping bags of all materials. These outlets are by operators with an annual turnover of more than $100 million: NTUC FairPrice, Cold Storage, Giant, Sheng Siong and Prime.

"By making the cost of disposable carrier bags visible to consumers, the charge will nudge consumers to be mindful of and reduce their usage of disposables," Dr Khor said, adding that shoppers can avoid the charge by bringing their own reusable bags.

The charge will not apply to non-carrier bags such as flat-top plastic bags for fresh produce, meat or seafood.

Some retailers, supermarkets already charging for bags

The move to make the bag charge compulsory at large supermarkets is part of several proposed amendments to the Resource Sustainability Act tabled in Parliament last month.

Dr Khor said similar schemes have already been implemented in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Britain, and have led to a drop in plastic bags used by 60 per cent to 90 per cent.

A number of smaller retailers and some supermarkets have already been charging for plastic and paper shopping bags. These include The Body Shop, H&M, Guardian, Watsons, 7-Eleven, 11 FairPrice outlets and 178 Cheers and FairPrice Xpress stores.

Dr Khor also announced in Parliament that every home can collect a recycling box from vending machines later this month, to make it more convenient for families to recycle.

The foldable box - called Bloobox - can hold up to 5kg of paper, plastic, metal or glass recyclables, or electronic waste. Each container also comes with a removable divider to separate small e-waste items such as batteries and light bulbs from other recyclables.

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