Oral Reply by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, to Parliamentary Question on Sustainability-friendly Measures in Supermarkets
Dr Shahira Abdullah: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment what measures will be introduced to ensure that supermarkets and other corporate entities do not pass on the costs of adopting sustainability-friendly measures to consumers.
Dr Shahira Abdullah: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment what measures will the Ministry introduce to encourage supermarkets to (i) reduce packaging waste (ii) use more sustainable forms of packaging and (iii) reduce the need for groceries to be pre-packaged, without passing on the cost of sustainability to consumers.
1 The transition to a sustainable and greener economy is necessary for Singapore to thrive in a carbon and resource-constrained future. Consumers are increasingly demanding sustainable products and services, and choosing to buy from businesses with more sustainable practices. Businesses have responded by adopting more sustainable practices, and introducing greener goods and services. The pricing of these products and services is part of this commercial decision.
2 In some cases, products and services may cost a bit more. But in a competitive market, businesses will compete to provide consumers with the most value-for-money products and services. As sustainable products and services become more mainstream, economies of scale could bring down costs. There could also be cost savings from going green. For example, energy efficient products may cost more upfront but provide savings over their life cycle.
3 Packaging waste is one of our main waste streams and a priority area for waste reduction for my Ministry. We have required large producers of packaged products and retailers, including supermarkets, to report annually the amount of packaging they introduce into Singapore, as well as their plans to reduce, reuse or recycle packaging. This Mandatory Packaging Reporting framework focuses companies’ attention on the packaging that they are placing on the market, and encourages them to reduce packaging use. It also lays the foundation for an Extended Producer Responsibility scheme for packaging waste eventually.
4 Packaging serves an important function of reducing damage, minimising cross-contamination, and enhancing the shelf-life of certain food types, thereby reducing wastage of food products. Supermarkets and businesses can preserve the quality of their products through more sustainable packaging models, such as reusable and refillable packaging.
5 The Singapore Manufacturing Federation and the National Environment Agency launched the Packaging Partnership Programme in 2021 to support companies in adopting sustainable packaging waste management practices through workshops and resources.
6 I encourage businesses to minimise waste in their use of packaging, and consumers to avoid the excessive use of packaging.