Disposable bag charges may change shopping habits

IF supermarkets charge for disposable carrier bags in the future, consumers will change their shopping habits, said business experts.

They said consumers might visit smaller stores more, be more mindful of the number of bags they use for their purchases or buy their groceries online.

They said this following the announcement on Saturday that the government will start public consultations on an appropriate charging model for disposable carrier bags at supermarkets.

This is part of efforts to cut the use of disposables in Singapore.

Associate Professor Lawrence Loh from the National University of Singapore’s Business School predicted that some customers may go to smaller shops instead of supermarkets when making small purchases to avoid the carrier bag charge.“I have noticed that some customers avoid outlets that require SafeEntry check-in and go to places that have less hassle, especially for quick and small purchases, ” he added.

Associate Professor Sharon Ng from the Nanyang Technological University’s Business School said the charge may push some customers to buy their groceries online as online purchases “will either come in a bag or box, and it may be difficult for online retailers to charge for bags as the consumer is not the one packing the bags”.

Associate Professor Seshan Ramaswami from the Singapore Management University said: “Online deliverers will have to incorporate a charge or deliver without bagging – by using reusable crates and taking them back after delivery.”Prof Ramaswami said supermarkets may also encourage shoppers to buy their in-house reusable bags at a discount when the charge starts.Aqeela Samat, a market transformation manager at conservation organisation WWF-Singapore, said supermarkets should clearly communicate to shoppers that the bag charge is an environmental effort and not intended for profit-making.Shoppers said they did not mind a charge on disposable carrier bags in supermarkets.

Suliha Bivi, 53, a nurse, said she would bring her own reusable bag when running small errands at the supermarket, but would not mind paying for plastic bags if she had to buy many or bulky items.

Sales officer Cassandra Ho, 53, suggested that supermarkets provide big cardboard cartons for the purchases of those driving or taking a taxi. — The Straits Times/ANN

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