MP Leon Perera

Mr Leon Perera asked the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment whether the Ministry will consider highlighting (i) the life-cycle assessment of the carbon footprints of plastic bags vis-à-vis paper bags and reusable cotton bags and (ii) the challenges of composting paper in the Singapore context as NEA rolls out its disposable carrier bag charge.

Ms Grace Fu Hai Yien: In 2018, the National Environment Agency (NEA) released the key findings of a lifecycle assessment study on carrier bags and food packaging used in Singapore. The study estimated that using a reusable bag for one year could replace 125 single-use plastic bags, or 52 single-use paper bags.     

 The study found that single-use plastic bags had the highest global warming potential and energy consumption. On the other hand, single-use paper bags and single-use biodegradable plastic bags contributed significantly to deforestation and had high water consumption among the carrier bags studied. Hence, substituting single-use bags of a certain material type, for example, plastic bags, with single-use bags of another material type, for example, paper or biodegradable plastics, would not necessarily result in a better environmental outcome. The most environmentally friendly option is to minimise use of disposables where possible, by reusing our carrier bags.

There is no paper composting or recycling facility in Singapore. Paper recyclables collected are aggregated and sent to overseas facilities for recycling. 

Ahead of the implementation of the disposable carrier bag charge from 3 July 2023, we encourage everyone to do their part for the environment by using reusable bags.  

Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment
21 March 2023

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