The Straits Times, April 19 2007, calls it ‘a promising start’:
Singapore uses about 2.5 billion plastic bags a year – or about 625 bags per person each year. Laid out on the ground, the total number would cover more than 10,000 soccer fields. Singapore incinerates the bulk of its plastic bags so they do not contribute to landfill. But burning the bags releases cancer- causing dioxins and carbon dioxide – and contributes to global warming. About 25g of carbon dioxide is released into the air from every bag burned, according to a 2004 estimate by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Steps taken to beat the habit
Furniture store Ikea will begin charging customers five to 10 cents for its plastic bags from Sunday. The Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB) Day drive has been launched to coax Singaporeans to bring their own carriers to supermarkets every first Wednesday of the month. This campaign will go on indefinitely. The next BYOB Day will be held on May 2. More than 200 retail outlets under Dairy Farm, FairPrice, Sheng Siong, Carrefour, Cold Storage, Shop N Save, Giant Hypermart and Prime will take part.
The response from shoppers seemed positive. From the preliminary results of a survey of 440 shoppers across five supermarkets collated by pre-university students from the Millennia Institute, it was found that:
44 per cent of shoppers brought their own bags, or bought reusable ones sold at the supermarkets. Another 34 per cent paid 10 cents for each plastic bag they took, as a donation to the Singapore Environment Council for green projects. The remaining 22 per cent refused to pay for the bags.
The response indicated progress from last year. Back then, only 2 per cent of shoppers used recyclable bags when the NEA made a first stab at changing shopper behaviour.
Click here to go to the Wikipedia article on plastic shopping bags, which includes their advantages and description of how 9 other industrialised countries deal with them.