Singapore will introduce a mandatory charge for plastic bags at large supermarkets from 3 July this year, in a bid to reduce food waste and packaging in the country.
Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Amy Khor announced the new measure in parliament during the Committee of Supply debate for the budget of the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) on Thursday (2 Mar).
Two-thirds of all supermarkets in Singapore will impose the charge, which applies to disposable carrier bags of all materials, but not non-carrier bags such as flat-top plastic bags for fresh produce, meat, or seafood.
Supermarket operators with an annual turnover of more than S$100 million, including NTUC FairPrice, Cold Storage, Giant, Sheng Siong, and Prime Supermarket, will be subject to the mandatory charge.
The Resource Sustainability (Amendment) Bill, which will make the bag charge compulsory at large supermarkets, was tabled for a first reading in Parliament on 6 February this year.
“Following consultations with supermarket operators, we understand that the majority will be charging 5 cents per bag, and this would moderate potential cost impact on consumers,” said Dr Khor.
“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.”
In a joint statement by the National Environment Agency (NEA) and MSE, supermarket operators with an annual turnover of less than S$100 million are encouraged to voluntarily impose their own bag charges.
Dr Khor said in her speech that while the mandatory charge will not apply at other retail outlets such as convenience stores, many businesses already charge for bags voluntarily, including large convenience store chains such as 7-Eleven and Cheers.
Supermarket operators will be required to publish information on the number of bags issued, the proceeds received from the bag charge, and how they use the proceeds. They are encouraged to use the proceeds to support social or environmental causes.
The effectiveness of the charge will be monitored, and the need to expand the mandatory coverage in the future will be assessed.