Find biodegradable alternatives, but we still need disposable bags

Goh Kian Huat, Today Online Voices, 7 Oct 13;

I agree with Ms Caslin Lee’s position that “Free plastic bags from supermarkets do not go to waste” (Oct 5), although these bags are not free but are factored into the total purchase cost as part of customer service.

In Singapore, most households reuse plastic bags to bag refuse, which helps to avoid spillage, odour and pest infestation. The waste, including used plastic bags, is disposed of safely at incineration plants and does not pose an environmental problem.

Thus, the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) should enlighten us on the extent of the environmental issues caused by the use of plastic bags here. (“An idea to charge for plastic bags on weekends”; Oct 1)

It was suggested that second-hand reusable bags be placed near cashier counters for shoppers who forget to bring their own bags. I would be uncomfortable to use such bags without knowing how they were used before.

While a carrier bag may look clean, there is always the risk that germs may spread to ready-to-eat food.

I am also disturbed by the SEC’s idea of letting supermarkets profit by charging for plastic bags on weekends. Surely there are better ways to manage plastic bag usage.

For example, retailers and supermarkets should be encouraged to use biodegradable plastic bags and, if possible or suitable, recycled or recyclable paper or cloth bags.

In this way, plastic bags that do not land up in incineration plants are at least decomposable. Such bags are being used in megastores such as Tesco and Aeon in Malaysia.

Plastic bags serve a purpose in daily life. We should not discourage their usage in the name of the environment while causing inconvenience to ourselves.

Free plastic bags from supermarkets do not go to waste
Caslin Lee Hui Ling, Today Online Voices, 5 Oct 13;

I refer to the report “An idea to charge for plastic bags on weekends” (Oct 1).

I would like to share my views on the Singapore Environment Council’s idea of charging for plastic bags provided by supermarkets on weekends.

As someone who is working, I typically plan my grocery shopping at supermarkets on weekends. This is also the time I get my supply of plastic bags, which I reuse daily for disposal of refuse produced from chores like food preparation.

If supermarkets start to charge for the bags, it is likely that people like me may have to resort to buying our own plastic bags to store our rubbish.

To me, this does not promote the National Environment Agency’s message to reduce, reuse and recycle. Using a brand-new plastic bag to contain waste does not make sense to me when I can reuse those from grocery shopping.

In Singapore, plastic bags are a necessity for us to manage our refuse in a hygienic and orderly way. This helps to contribute to the safety and ease of clearing rubbish.

If people started to throw things directly into rubbish chutes in Housing and Development Board blocks due to a lack of plastic bags (as they did not get any from supermarkets or buy their own), would that pose a threat to environmental cleanliness as well as the safety of cleaners?

We should look at the root cause of the issue and continue to educate people about reusing and recycling plastic bags, so as to do our part in contributing to the long-term good of our environment.