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Singapore launches first “Bring Your Own Bag Day”

By CCTV ( - April 19, 2007

SINGAPORE, April 18 (Xinhua) — Singapore on Wednesday launched the first “Bring Your Own Bag Day”, aimed to cut use of plastic bags.

At many participating supermarkets, many shoppers were seen coming with their own bags. Those who did not have one bought the reusable bags for less than one Singapore dollar (about 66 U.S. cents) from cashiers who eagerly encouraged them to do so.

While those who needed plastic bags were requested to donate 10cents for each plastic bag issued to them.

Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA), the organizer of the campaign, said it was encouraged by the response of the first day.

NEA Chief Executive Officer Lee Yuen Hee said in a statement: “We are very encouraged by the positive response to the campaign. More people are taking interest in environmental issues.”

According to the NEA, at a supermarket named Giant in Parkway Parade, response was so overwhelming that reusable bags were sold out by midday and new stock had to be brought in.

From now on, every first Wednesday of the month is designated as the “Bring Your Own Bag Day”. The NEA has worked with seven supermarket chains to sell reusable bags and hoped to increase the low two percent of shoppers using reusable bags.

The NEA also hopes that more retailers will come on board.

But some residents said they are used to using plastic bags and it is hard to change their habit.

“Well not all customers are used to the idea of using reusable bags. It really takes time and effort to persuade them to change their habit. But we can’t do it overnight,” local television Channel News Asia quoted Gerry Lee, general manager of a supermarket named NTUC Fairprice, as saying.

According to the NEA, Singapore consumes 2.5 billion plastic bags each year. However, burning a ton of waste plastic bags produces almost 2,900 kg of carbon dioxide, the gas that causes global warming.