I don't want to pay the price for 'free' plastic bags - Support a plastic bag charge!

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We are all paying for every 'free' plastic bag we get.

Think about all the single-use odd-sized plastic bags that require finite resources to make, and used for mere 5-30 minutes with every bubble tea, meal and clothing we purchase that are given to us for "free"...

Would we pay for them explicitly?

Why are we still made to pay for them implicitly?

Instead of embedding the cost, present the cost upfront, let us decide whether or not to pay for every additional plastic bag, instead of making us pay for them implicitly. 

With a plastic bag charge, we not only get to choose not to pay for these plastic bags, we make a more conscious decision to live with less 'free' plastic bags.

I refer to this article published on 7/March/2018, The Straits Time: Tackling excessive plastic bag use: No levy in the works

There's no explicit plastic bag charge in the pipeline, and the study studies the substitution of plastic bags with other material plastic bags, which are second best solutions to this non-issue. 

The plastic bag charge is NOT about substituting plastic bags with biodegradable bags. It's about making consumers pay for the plastic bags they want and need to use. We give consumers the CHOICE and POWER to make their own decision on consuming a finite resource. It's about REDUCTION, not substitution with other materials or elimination such that Singapore would have a hygiene issue.

When the EU Plastic Bags Directive was adopted by member states, it yielded significantly positive results that should prove worthy of influencing Singapore’s policies. Since the introduction of the levy in 2002, the consumption of single-use plastic bags fell by 95 per cent from 328 to 18 per person per year in Ireland, for example.

Examples closer to home include Taiwan, Hong Kong and parts of Malaysia. People still buy plastic bags to bag trash and it has yield tremendous reductions in plastic bags used per individual as we keep plastic bag use to the bare minimal - strictly for trash. 

IKEA Singapore set a precedent in 2013 by doing away with plastic bags, and Singaporeans have adapted well to it.

Furthermore, Miniso witnessed a 75% drop in plastic bag take-up rate after it implemented a $0.10 plastic bag charge in April 2017.

We could consider a tiered approach, if necessary, starting with thin, small plastic bags unsuitable for reuse and plastic bags provided for non-wet products before we extend the plastic bag charge island-wide. 

In the Year of Climate Action, I hope Singapore can progress towards having a plastic bag charge - what's at stake is our Clean and Green pride, Pulau Semakau landfill and not forgetting, our 7% plastic recycling rate (2016) and overall 2% recycling rate.

Sign if you support having a (explicit) plastic bag charge in Singapore!

This article published in The Straits Time on 5/October/2017: 3 billion plastic bags a year? Cut use with mandatory tax, sums up the challenges and threats of not managing our plastic bag consumption:

First, plastic bags, unlike paper bags, are made from non-renewable sources, such as crude oil. To manufacture the three billion plastic bags Singapore used in 2011, about 37 million kg of crude oil and 12 million kg of natural gas were required, said SEC.

Many households here reuse plastic bags to bag their trash. But no studies have yet determined what proportion of the three billion bags used here a year are reused.

Second, very little plastic is recycled here. Even though some 822,200 tonnes of plastic waste were generated last year, only 7 per cent was recycled. Of the 762,700 tonnes of remaining plastic waste, plastic bags constituted about a fifth of it, said the National Environment Agency (NEA). Non-recycled plastic bags, whether biodegradable or not, are all incinerated.

Third, the burning of plastic produces a residual ash. Excessive use of plastic bags could also clog up Singapore's only landfill, on Pulau Semakau. Ash residue from incineration is sent to the landfill, which is filling up at a rapid rate and may become full as early as 2035, a decade earlier than projected.

Fourth, plastic bags that end up as litter could also clog up Singapore's waterways and streets, and pose a danger to wildlife that may ingest it.

A surcharge is a tried-and-tested way of curbing excessive use of plastic bags. In October 2015, shoppers in Britain had to pay five pence (about nine Singapore cents) for each single-use plastic bag received. It resulted in the number of bags used by shoppers dropping by more than 85 per cent, reported The Guardian.

My previous contributions in the forum include:

7 Nov 2017: Paying for plastic bags when shopping: Consumers should adapt intuitively
14 Jan 2018: Keep supermarket plastic bags free, charge for others
18 Feb 2018: Put responsibility of recycling in consumers’ hands

For further discussions:

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