AB0501 Individual Critique Report:
Supermarts may start charging for plastic bags
The article highlights an idea to cut down on plastic bag usage in Singapore by imposing charges for them on people patronising supermarkets, provision shops and even food outlets and hawker stalls. The proposal deals with one of Singapore’s significant source of waste and it can be seen as a small move towards eco-friendliness. As with any other new initiatives, it is worth discussing its potential effectiveness, and any other impacts that the charges on plastic bags may have on the society. On the same note, examining such a green policy would also naturally lead one to ponder upon the “green” attitude of Singaporeans in general.
The usage of plastic bags is a major concern firstly due to the amount of precious resources that goes into manufacturing it. More alarmingly for Singapore, the local consumption for plastic bags last year was reported to have amounted to three billion pieces – an equivalent of 37 million kg of crude oil and 12 million kg of natural gas. The issue is made more tragic when we consider the fact that most of these plastic bags end up in the incinerator. Raising the price of plastic bags from zero to ten cents as a deterrent makes behavioural economic sense. A study in 2007 indicated that people have a strong preference for free item over a better deal available at a small cost. In addition, when a small price tag is placed on something that was initially free of charge, the demand for the item will experience a significant drop. Such was the explanation behind the success of the Area Licensing Scheme – a policy introduced in 1975 that charged car users entering the CBD in order to reduce congestion into the area. The success of a similar, local policy would perhaps indicate a possible success of the legislation of plastic bags in the near future. In addition, regulations over usage of plastic bags have proven to be successful in other countries...
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