Saturday 29 October 2011

Plastic bags and NTUC Fairprice

FairPrice took the lead in reducing plastic bag usage

WE THANK Ms Catherine Ho Shull for her concerns on the environment ('Time to say a firm 'no' to plastic bags'; Tuesday) and would like to share FairPrice's position on this issue.

The production, use and disposal of plastic bags, if not managed properly, can cause severe environmental damage. Research shows that one key factor contributing to the damaging effects of plastic bags is littering, which can clog drainage systems and contribute to flooding.

Plastic waste is also a main component of waste floating in the sea, which can kill marine animals if ingested.

So the issue is about responsible disposal and reducing excessive consumption of plastic bags. While there are consumers who litter plastic bags, many reuse the bags to line garbage bins and pick up after pets, for instance.

Without free bags from retailers, consumers will be forced to buy them.

Western nations such as Ireland, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and Germany have introduced a national ban or taxes to reduce the use of plastic bags.

Asian nations like China and Malaysia, and cities like Hong Kong have imposed a similar ban, backed by law.

In the absence of similar legislation in Singapore, FairPrice took the lead in 2007 to reduce plastic bag consumption when we introduced the FairPrice Green Rewards Scheme.

Under this scheme, customers who use their own bags to pack purchases receive a rebate of 10 cents for a minimum purchase of $10.

This encouragement has made headway and we have saved some five to six million bags annually in the recent two years. We remain the only Singaporean supermarket to have such a scheme.

Our annual FairPrice Cares Campaign is another initiative where we pledge a donation to a charity for every customer who uses a recycled bag to pack her purchases during the campaign.

While more customers are bringing their own bags, it is a habit that will take time to nurture.

We will continue to work with organisations such as the Singapore Environment Council to encourage customers to reduce plastic bag consumption. We hope more customers can join us in our efforts to protect our environment.

Seah Kian Peng
CEO (Singapore)
NTUC FairPrice Cooperative
ST Forum, 29 Oct 2011

Aid to public hygiene
'Without plastic bags, garbage disposal would be messy and unhygienic. We should thank FairPrice, other supermarkets and wet market stallholders for providing free plastic bags.'

MR TONY LEE: 'Ms Catherine Ho Shull argues that in offering free plastic bags, NTUC FairPrice is defeating its environment-friendly bring-your-own-bag campaign ('Time to say a firm 'no' to plastic bags'; Tuesday). All supermarkets, including Cold Storage, Shop N Save and Giant, as well as wet markets distribute plastic bags to their customers. In doing so, they are not only providing a service to shoppers but are also helping to maintain public hygiene in high-rise rubbish chutes as the plastic bags are used to bundle household rubbish cleanly before the garbage is disposed through the chutes. The same practice occurs during garbage disposal in landed homes. Without plastic bags, home garbage disposal would be messy and unhygienic. We should thank FairPrice, the other supermarkets and wet market stallholders for providing free plastic bags, failing which, the public must buy their own plastic bags to maintain public hygiene.'

ST Forum, 29 Oct 2011

Time to say a firm 'no' to plastic bags

WHILE living in Shanghai four years ago, I was amazed at how resolutely the authorities ended the use of plastic bags. The city's populace quickly adapted and most people began carrying their own bags whenever they went shopping.

A similar 'ban' has been successfully implemented in other Asian cities as well in the last few years, including Hong Kong and Penang. It baffles me that Singapore has done little to curb the use of plastic and to really embrace the 3Rs of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

There are two national icons that can lead the way in making a difference in turning Singapore into a greener nation.

The first is national carrier Singapore Airlines. On a recent flight, I was appalled at how much unnecessary waste was being created. These included paper menus and toiletry bags that were given to every passenger. Yes, these were nice touches, but certainly unfriendly to our environment.

SIA should stop giving out these bags, and consider featuring menus on the individual KrisWorld screens instead.

The second icon is NTUC FairPrice. Every time I shop there, I am amazed at the myriad number of bags given out. Certainly, the bring-your-own-bag effort is so anaemic that no one seems to even take it seriously.

FairPrice can set the pace by beginning to charge for bags instead of giving a paltry 10-cent rebate to those who bring their own.

If our iconic institutions start taking ownership and leadership, they can help create a new green culture. It is time to awaken our environmental conscience.

Catherine Ho Shull (Ms)
ST Forum, 25 Oct 2011

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