Majority of supermarket outlets to charge minimum of five cents for plastic bags in mid-2023
The requirement applies to large supermarket outlets including NTUC FairPrice, Cold Storage, Giant, Sheng Siong, and Prime Supermarket.
About two-thirds of all supermarket outlets in Singapore will be required to charge a minimum of five cents for each “disposable carrier bag” in mid-2023 as part of a Bill tabled in Parliament on Monday (Feb 6).
The Resource Sustainability (Amendment) Bill proposes a legislative framework for the carrier bag charge, as well as two other measures: A return scheme for beverage containers and for commercial and industrial companies to report on food waste.
These measures aim to “reduce packaging and food waste”, announced the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) in a joint statement.
The agencies added that the measures also aim to “drive behavioural changes across Singapore” to reduce waste and increase recycling.
The disposable carrier bag charge was first announced in the Committee of Supply Debate 2022.
The requirement applies to supermarket operators with an annual turnover of more than $100 million. This includes NTUC FairPrice, Cold Storage, Giant, Sheng Siong, and Prime supermarket outlets, determined based on 2021 annual revenue and data on SFA licensees.
Supermarket outlets with an annual turnover of less than $100 million are encouraged to voluntarily implement their own bag charges.
The minimum charge has been “kept low to moderate the cost impact on shoppers”, and to encourage them to be “mindful of the number of disposable carrier bags they take”, according to NEA and MSE.
Supermarket operators will also be required to publish information on the number of bags issued, amount of proceeds received from the bag charge, and how the proceeds are used including the support of charitable or environmental causes.
This is to ensure they “uphold accountability and transparency” in their use of proceeds from the carrier charge.
Under the proposed beverage container return scheme, a small deposit will be applied when consumers buy certain pre-packaged drinks. To claim the deposit in full, they can return their empty beverage containers at designated return points.
The scheme was proposed with the aim of encouraging consumers to return their beverage containers, as well as increasing the recycling rate of beverage containers, said NEA.
To tackle food waste in Singapore, the Bill will also require commercial and industrial buildings to to measure and report the amount of food waste they have segregated for treatment.
Under the Bill, the three measures will contribute towards the national targets under the Singapore Green Plan 2030 and the Zero Waste Masterplan, said NEA and MSE.
It consists of reducing the amount of waste sent to the landfill per capita per day by 30 per cent, and increasing the national recycling rate to 70 per cent by 2030. These measures will also help to extend the lifespan of the Semakau Landfill.