Stuff you must read today (Sun, 11 Dec 2016) – The Psychology and Politics Edition

Suggestion to improve BYOB programme

Dear Madam/Sir,

I refer to “Scheme saves 5 to 6 million plastic bags a year” (Oct 31).

As an ardent supporter of the Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB) programme, I want to applaud NTUC FairPrice for implementing the Green Rewards Scheme.

It is the only existing scheme by supermarkets in Singapore that provides incentives to customers to use their own shopping bags.

I hope a similar scheme can be adopted by all retailers nationwide.

In light of this dream, I would like to suggest the implementation of an Enhanced BYOB Programme to all retailers for their consideration:

  1. FairPrice’s current practice is to provide a flat fee rebate i.e. S$0.10 off the total price of groceries for customers who bring their own bags and spend $10 or more.

    Retailers should consider a percentage pricing rebate instead i.e. 1% off the total price of groceries for customers who bring their own bags and spend $10 or more.

    This is because the amount spent on groceries and the number of bags used will generally rise in the same proportion.

    For example, if I were to spend S$39.90 on groceries, I would receive a S$0.40 rebate if I brought my own shopping bags.
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  3. If retailers were to adopt the above suggestion, they can offset any potential financial losses by concurrently implementing the converse i.e. a 1% grocery bill levy on consumers who use plastic bags.

    This will also provide a further incentive for consumers to use their own shopping bags; most consumers will baulk at the thought of subsidising another person’s grocery shopping.
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  5. Once we reach a stage where shopping bag usage is more popular than plastic bag usage, we can then revert to the S$0.10 token flat fee rebate.

    This is to continue to reward consumers who use shopping bags.

    However, the 1% grocery bill levy on consumers who use plastic bags must be maintained concurrently in order to sustain the disincentive for consumers to be environmentally unfriendly.

Plastic manufacturers need not be unduly concerned – consumers will still need to purchase plastic bags as bin liners.

Consumers also need not be unduly concerned – we can use the rebates from supermarkets to purchase our bin liners. This will allow us to appreciate the true cost of our activities on the environment.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,
Laremy LEE (Mr)

(Published as “A 1% Bring Your Own Bag rebate, instead of 10 cents?” on 5 Nov 2012 in TODAY.)