Large supermarkets will charge at least 5 cents for each disposable carrier bag

SINGAPORE: Large supermarkets will be required to charge a minimum of 5 cents for each disposable bag from mid-2023, Minister for Sustainable Development and Environment Grace Fu announced on Monday (March 7).

These are supermarket operators with an annual turnover of more than S$100 million – such as NTUC FairPrice, Sheng Siong, Prime and Dairy Farm (which operates Cold Storage and Giant supermarkets) – representing approximately two-thirds of Singapore’s supermarkets.

Mandatory bag fees will only apply to purchases made at their physical stores and not to online orders.

As for non-carrying disposable bags such as flat-top plastic bags for bagging fresh produce as well as meat and seafood, they will not be subject to the mandatory fee.

In a joint press release on Monday, the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Environment (MSE) and the National Environment Agency (NEA) said the charge would apply to disposable bags regardless of the material used.

“Whether they are made of paper, plastic or degradable materials, disposable products have an impact on the environment during their production, transport and disposal,” they said.

“In addition, disposable bags used in Singapore are either recycled or incinerated. Since they are not landfilled directly, the potential environmental benefits of using biodegradable materials (such as) paper cannot be realized in Singapore.

Authorities have encouraged shoppers to bring their own bags and curb overuse of all types of disposable bags.

They also “strongly encouraged” supermarkets to use proceeds from bag fees to support charity programs or sustainability-related initiatives.

To ensure transparency and discourage profiteering, supermarkets will be required to publish information on the number of bags issued, the bag levy proceeds and how they use the proceeds.

Meanwhile, authorities said supermarket operators with an annual turnover of less than S$100 million could apply their own bag fees, noting that many retailers have already done so.

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