Amongst the myriad of literature on the issue of plastic bag usage, multiple perspectives have been brought up and discussed. In this critique, I will be highlighting some of these issues discussed and provide my analysis on the article.
Summary of Key Issues
In Singapore, it is commonplace to issue free plastic bags. As plastic is non-biodegradable, it causes pollution and consumes significant amounts of precious resources including petroleum and land. The manufacturing also produces large amounts of greenhouse gases . These deleterious impacts are gradually noticed and is now gaining awareness and Singapore now faces international pressure to reduce the consumption of plastic bags. One way in which the government, represented by the Singapore Environment Council (SEC), is exploring into is charging for plastic bags.
Two main policies were proposed in the article but there is a stalemate because each stakeholder wants to protect its own interests. The supermarts want their bottom-line to be secured because they might lose customers if they charge for plastic bags while the SEC wants to ensure environmental sustainability.
The behavioral aspects of this economy can be explained via the Game Theory. The economy is in the Nash Equilibrium , where each party only regards its own decisions and takes the optimal decision for themselves but these independent rational results may not necessarily lead to Pareto optimum results (Congleton, 2004). Taking it into context, it means that supermarts are protecting its own interests by not charging for plastic bags and more substantive government intervention may be necessary.
A common argument is that charging for plastic bags may lead to a drop in revenue. However given the greater emphasis on corporate social responsibility (CSR), charging for plastic bags “could promote respect for their company and bolster higher sales…” (Robins, 2011). By branding itself as having a strong...