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KF Seetoh offers witty critique on plastic bag charging debate, challenges NEA for all-out approach

As the trend of charging for disposable carriers gains momentum, hawker stalls and minimarts have joined in due to the growing demand for free bags.

Netizens debated the reasoning behind this, while food critic KF Seetoh added a touch of satire to the ongoing debate.

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SINGAPORE: Since 3 July, large supermarket operators have been mandated to impose a minimum charge of S$0.05 (US$0.03) for disposable carrier bags, although this regulation does not extend to smaller shops or other retailers.

Last month, a hawker stall in Kovan gained attention for requiring customers to pay for additional plastic bags and disposable cutlery, in addition to the usual takeaway fee.

According to a report by Channel News Asia, the trend of charging for disposable carriers is spreading, with more hawker stalls and minimarts adopting the practice due to increasing requests for free bags.

For instance, At the Kovan 209 Market and Food Centre, hawkers put up signs informing customers of a 10-cent charge for each piece of cutlery and every extra bag, in addition to the standard 30-cent takeaway fee.

A stall assistant explained their motivation was to promote environmental friendliness by reducing plastic bag usage. Another hawker shared a similar sentiment, expressing that although customers frequently request multiple plastic bags, it’s unsustainable for them to provide these continuously, considering their livelihood as hawkers.

Additionally, the hawker provided feedback that since the implementation of the charge, customers have significantly decreased their consumption of extra plastic bags and utensils.

Other hawkers shared that they have encountered customers taking multiple bags at a time – usually without asking.

Minimarts and wet market stalls have introduced charges of up to 10 cents for additional plastic bags, for examples, Fortune Supermarket and E Ocean Minimart began imposing bag fees on 3 July, aligning with the mandatory disposable bag charge at larger grocery chains.

Despite the trend, some wet market stalls, like Traditional Yong Tau Foo, apply bag charges varying from 5 to 10 cents based on bag size, while considering exceptions for elderly customers.

While there are also minimart that did not charge for additional plastic bags, and business owners saw reusable bags have become a growing trend.

Netizens spark debate on the justification of the plastic bags charges

Commenting on CNA’s Facebook post, some netizens debated the reason why hawker stalls also adopted the practice, as initially only large supermarket chains were mandated to charge for plastic bags.

A few individuals even threatened to boycott hawkers, claiming that there’s no justification for these additional fees alongside existing charges.

Charges for extra plastic bags only

On the contrary, some argued that certain hawkers and minimarts, as highlighted in the CNA interview, only impose charges for extra plastic bags, considering it reasonable since small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) need to balance their costs.

KF Seetoh wields satire to highlight inconsistencies in plastic bag charging debate

In response to the ongoing debate, KF Seetoh, the esteemed Singaporean food critic and Makansutra founder, delivered a sardonic commentary on the issue.

He humorously pointed out the inconsistency of criticizing hawkers for charging extra for plastic bags while implying that only large chains and government-owned supermarkets should be allowed to do so.

“As if their (hawkers) plastic bags are harmless to mother earth..so cannot charge. And hawkers come under the ‘ENV’ (The National Environment Agency, NEA)’s purview some more..sheesh. Oversmart logic.”

Expressing his frustration, the renowned advocate for hawkers emphasized the necessity of a coherent and comprehensive approach by the NEA.

He draws an analogy to playing football without aiming to score, “do so across the board la. Like wanna play football but don’t plan on scoring. Go on..make that statement ..ALL should charge for plastic bags.”‘

Commenting on Mr Seetoh’s post, a user astutely highlighted the current bag charging policy’s logical fallacies by detailing various supermarket items wrapped in excessive plastic packaging.

He pointed out items like individually wrapped apples, durian encased in styrofoam and plastic, salad in plastic boxes and etc, he found themselves being charged for plastic carriers to transport these purchases.

 

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I will only support hawkers etc that do not charge for bags etc

Its like a dog chasing its tail.

If saving the environment is the INTENTION for charging for plastic bags, how about supermarkets PAYING 5 cents for every plastic bag RETURNED to them after use?

The world has gone mad and pretentious,
and much of it is for the love of……..

MONEY!

Last edited 8 months ago by Chi Can

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