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Mon 11 Apr 2005

IKEA will not distribute plastic bags on Earth Day weekend

Category : envt

"Take a bag when you go shopping - think green." The Straits Times, 11th April, 2005.

I REFER to the letters, 'Use degradable plastic bags' (The Sunday Times, March 27), 'Don't take more plastic bags than necessary' (The Straits Times, April 1), 'How to cut down on plastic bag wastage' and 'Unusual sight in Ukraine made me rethink bag usage' (April 5).

Ikea Singapore is excited to read of such a high level of environmental concern among Singaporeans.

At Ikea, we encourage the reuse of plastic bags and strongly believe that everybody's contribution, big or small, plays a part in making Singapore more eco-friendly.

In view of this, Ikea's Singapore store will commemorate the Earth Day weekend (April 22-24) by not giving out plastic bags with purchases.

Shoppers are encouraged to bring their own shopping bags instead.

We encourage Singaporeans to make it a habit to take a bag wherever they go shopping, be it at the Ikea store or any other store.

We appeal to our customers' understanding in our effort to conserve our environment.

Angeline Tan (Ms)
Gang Green (Environmental Committee)
Ikea Singapore

IKEA and their amusingly named Gang Green team is to be applauded! In 2002, retailers launched an effort to reduce plastic bag consumption in supermarkets - see "Singapore Retailers Go Green. 11 stores join campaign to use fewer plastic bags." Joint NEA-SRA-SEC Press Release, 29 Nov 2002.

"Today Singapore has more than 400 large retailers, and about 17,000 small and medium-sized stores. Each year, it is estimated that retailers hand out several hundred millions of plastic shopping bags to their customers." [This works out to at least a million plastic bags a day!]

"While the disposal of plastic bags in Singapore is not a problem as they can be easily and safely incinerated, and energy is recovered from incineration, the unnecessary wastage of plastic bags is a concern. If each family in Singapore were to use one less plastic bag a week, we can save some 40 million bags a year."

The 13th International Coastal Cleanup Singapore last year published its 2004 results and reported that 2,202 volunteers, in 90 minutes, collected 12,002 bags, 11,598 food wrappers and containers, 8,824 straws and 7,493 beverage bottles (<2 litres) off Singapore's shores. The only item in a similar range was 12,117 cigarettes and cigarette filters.

And plastic accounts for up to three-quarters of all items collected.

We have a long way to go but is there any short-term good news?

"The good news is that the amount of waste we are incinerating is declining, from 2.31 million tonnes in 2003 to 2.26 million tonnes last year. The overall recycling rate is up. It now stands at 48% up from 40% in 2000. We are seeing greater participation:
  • from schools (up from 30% in 2003 to 50% in 2004),
  • households (up from 45% in 2003 to 54% in 2004) and
  • condominiums (up from 20% in 2003 to 34% in Jan 2005)."

- Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minster for the Environment and water resources, 08 Mar 2005.

From Clean Card 2005: In 2000-2004 we disposed of 11% less waste (cf. 1970-2000) and recycling rates went up from 40% to 48%. This has extended the lifespan of the landfill at Pulau Semakau has been extended by another 10 years.

In order to build this landfill, where the ashes of our trash are buried, we lost a rare island kampung on Pulau Sakeng, its rare Xylocarpus granatum (Nyireh bunga) mangrove, the endangered Dolichandrone spathacea (Tui) mangrove, and a large area of mature mangroves on Pulau Semakau. The unique instance of compensatory replanting of mangroves in the north and south of the island provided some comfort, though.

The more that individuals, schools, industry, private and the civil sector reduce consumption, demand greener products, dispose of trash properly and practise recycling, the longer we will extend the life of the existing landfill, defer and reduce the needless damage to and destruction of our natural habitats.

This is a simple way we can contribute.

Posted at 2:43PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email | Raffles Museum news