Plastic bags have rapidly becoming popular among consumers and retailers due to its convenience and functionality and it comes at a relatively low cost. Wastage and hygiene issue arises as these non- biodegradable bags are usually littered and not recycled. Technological advances that led to even lighter bags have worsened this problem. These lighter bags are often not suitable for reuse and heavy items have to be double bag, increasing the use of plastic bags. As a result, more scare land has to be converted into landfills to provide long- term storage for this waste.
Singapore is one of the slowest Asian countries to implement law to control the usage of plastic bag. Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB) campaign was launched in 2007 and 5 to 6 millions bags are saved a year. There is room for improvement considering our plastic bags usage is around 2.5 billion annually.
Singapore Environment Council (SEC) has been studying ways to reduce consumption of plastic bag. One of the ways is to tax consumption, which many countries are practicing now. The issue is whether a charge on usage of plastic bags will reduce consumer consumption.
In this report, I will be focusing on 2 groups of people who will be directly affected by this scheme: Consumers and Retailers. I will be evaluating the effectiveness of this scheme in the context of Singapore, followed by possible alternatives to address this problem in the long run.
Major retailers are slow in implementing measures to reduce the consumption of plastic bag. One possible reason is the afraid of loss of competitiveness in this perfect competition market. Smaller- sized retailers would also not make move to not issue plastic bags as they are already facing intense competition from bigger retail chains. Thus, the best move for retailers now is not move until relevant legislation is passed.
The effectiveness of the tax scheme depends on (1) whether all retailers will...