Mr Seah Kian Peng, CEO of NTUC Fairprice
Ms Pek Hai Lin, Manager of Zero Waste SG,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1 Good morning. I am happy to be here today to launch Zero Waste SG’s Bring Your Own Bag, or BYOB, campaign. This campaign is launched in partnership with the National Environment Agency and major supermarket retailers such as FairPrice, Cold Storage, Sheng Siong and Prime Supermarket.
2 BYOB is part of Zero Waste SG’s ongoing Bring Your Own, or BYO, movement which was launched in 2017. This nationwide initiative promotes the use of reusable bags, bottles and containers, with the aim of reducing the use of plastic disposables. Within the first four months of its launch in 2017, their efforts have helped to avoid the use of over two million pieces of plastic disposables. That is a tremendous effort. The number of retail outlets and businesses that joined the movement to promote the use of reusables have increased significantly from 430 in 2017, to 796 today.
Packaging Waste in Singapore
3 It is commendable, but more needs to be done. In 2018, disposables, including plastic bags, made up about 164,500 tonnes of domestic waste. This is about 10 per cent of our total domestic waste.
4 Although plastic disposables are incinerated in Singapore – thereby averting problems like marine litter or landfill pollution – the process of doing so will add to our carbon footprint. The resources that go into producing and transporting disposables also contribute to carbon emissions.
5 A recent survey by the Singapore Environment Council found that 820 million plastic bags are taken from supermarkets each year. This works out to two to four plastic bags per shopper per visit. While plastic bags are useful for the bagging of our waste, many of us probably take more than what we need.
6 In March this year, my Ministry held a public consultation for the upcoming Zero Waste Masterplan and asked respondents how we could reduce packaging waste. Close to 90% of the respondents supported encouraging people to BYO. This is something that we ought to do.
7 With the launch of this new BYOB movement, supermarkets FairPrice, Cold Storage, Sheng Siong and Prime Supermarket will be making a renewed and joint effort to educate and encourage the customers to bring their own reusable bags and reduce the use of disposables. To raise awareness of the campaign, they will be organizing 48 roadshows at eight supermarket outlets, across the four brands, over the next four months. All the cashiers in the participating outlets will be asking customers if they need a plastic bag, and will thank them if they refuse a plastic bag or BYOB. They will also wear badges to remind customers to BYOB. Reusable bag donation bins will also be placed in outlets for the public to donate their reusable bags. I am proud to say that within my constituency early this year, we have worked with Prime Supermarket and Sheng Siong to place the reusable bag donation bins at their outlets. I have seen my residents donating and also picking up the reusable bags from these bins. Efforts like these are useful for people who may have forgotten to BYOB.
8 BYOB supports NEA’s ‘Say YES to Waste Less’ campaign which involves a total of 59 partners covering over 1,600 premises such as retailers, supermarkets, food and beverage establishments, hotels, Community Development Councils, grassroots organisations, schools and non-government organisations. These partners will also be encouraging the community to use reusables and reduce the use of disposables.
9 Changing consumer behaviour is not an easy task, but it is something we must collectively do to reduce our reliance on plastic bags nationwide. If we can do this collectively, we can make a difference.
10 Let me conclude by sharing with you four simple actions you can take to support the campaign, which I hope that you can also share with others:
- Bring reusable bags every time you go shopping
- Take single-use plastic bags when you need to and refuse when you do not need them
- Reuse plastic bags to bag your trash
- Praise a brand that has reduced their plastic bag usage, and tag them on social media.
11 Thank you for joining us, and I wish you a good day ahead.