Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/222553
Title: PLASTIC BAGS IN SINGAPORE: A CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF ISSUES IN SUSTAINABILITY
Authors: TEASDALE MARRA LIN
Keywords: Environmental Management
Master (Environmental Management)
MEM
Lye Lin Heng
2012/2013 EnvM
Issue Date: 4-Jul-2013
Citation: TEASDALE MARRA LIN (2013-07-04). PLASTIC BAGS IN SINGAPORE: A CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF ISSUES IN SUSTAINABILITY. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: When Singapore became an independent republic in 1965 it began a fast paced modernization program which sparked economic growth and an increase in consumption which has led to issues of environmental sustainability. Specifically, this increase in consumption has resulted in an issue with the overuse of plastic bags in Singapore. This study uses an interpretive approach of secondary materials and consumer surveys to quantify the current issue of plastic bag usage on Singapore’s environment, analyze potential impacts of alternatives, review current reduction programs and the effectiveness of reduction programs in other countries. Plastic bags serve many practical purposes and many Singaporeans reuse them as trash bin liners which have given them a secondary purpose. However, their use is excessive. In 2006 Singapore was using approximately 2.5 billion plastic bags a year, which was equivalent to 1.7 bags per person each day, almost double the average number in other first world countries such as the United States. Due to their excessive use and public littering, they are finding their way into Singapore’s green spaces and waterways, impacting countless animals every day, and changing our ecosystems to a level that may take decades to truly understand. Governments from around the world are investing money and resources to try and minimize their negative effects through new legislation and it is clear by the impacts highlighted in this study that it is time for Singapore to do the same. Results from a consumer survey conducted as part of this study concludes that Singapore citizens agree, as 87 percent of respondents believed that there are too many plastic bags being used and 71 percent said that they would support a levy imposed on their use. The government has attempted to address this issue with initiatives such the “Bring Your Own Bag Day” campaign which was launched in 2007. Due to low stakeholder buy-in this program has since been discontinued. Though this paints a grim picture for plastic bag reduction programs in Singapore, Ikea and the National University of Singapore (NUS) have both launched very successful programs which have exceptional results. Ikea reduced plastic bags given out at their two Singapore locations by 5.34 million in the first year alone and NUS has had an 86 percent reduction in plastic bags given out at their campus. From the results of this study, a levy on plastic bags is recommended. The case studies reviewed on Ireland’s and Hong Kong’s programs provide valuable lessons, as both cases show how a mandatory levy on plastic bags can reduce consumption by up to 90 percent, significantly influence consumer behavior and benefit local environmental initiatives with the money collected. Moving forward, to determine the best model for a plastic bag reduction program further research should be carried out on consumer behaviors regarding secondary uses of plastic bags such as bin liners and to determine how to motivate Singaporean consumers to reuse PP and cotton reusable bags multiple times in order to minimize their environmental effects.
URI: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/222553
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