SINGAPORE: Large supermarkets will be required to charge a minimum of 5 cents for each disposable carrier bag from mid-2023, announced Sustainability and the Environment Minister Grace Fu on Monday (Mar 7).
These refer to supermarket operators with an annual turnover of more than S$100 million – such as NTUC FairPrice, Sheng Siong, Prime and Dairy Farm (which operates Cold Storage and Giant supermarkets) – making up about two-thirds of supermarket outlets in Singapore.
The mandatory bag charge will only apply to purchases made at their physical stores and not for online orders.
As for non-carrier disposable bags such as flat top plastic bags for bagging fresh produce as well as meat and seafood, they will not be subject to the mandatory charge.
In a joint press release issued on Monday, the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) and the National Environment Agency (NEA) said the charge will apply to disposable carrier bags regardless of the material used.
“Whether they are made of paper, plastic or degradable materials, disposables have an impact on the environment during their production, transportation and disposal,” they said.
“In addition, disposable carrier bags used in Singapore are either recycled or incinerated. As they are not landfilled directly, the potential environmental benefits of using biodegradable materials (such as) paper cannot be realised in Singapore.”
The authorities encouraged shoppers to bring their own bags and reduce the excessive use of all types of disposable bags.
They also “strongly encouraged” supermarkets to use the collected proceeds from the bag charges to support charitable programmes or sustainability-related initiatives.
To ensure transparency and discourage profiteering, supermarkets will be required to publish information on the number of bags issued, proceeds received from the bag charge and how they use the proceeds.
Meanwhile, the authorities said supermarket operators with an annual turnover of less than S$100 million may implement their own bag charges, noting that many retailers have already done so.