‘Plastic bag habits yet to change’

National 2 minutes, 23 seconds


BRUNEIANS have yet to fully embrace the No Plastic Bag Weekend campaign, some supermarket employees said.

A Hua Ho Kiulap supermarket manager said most of their customers often forget to bring their reusable grocery bags on weekends.

“Customers often tell us that they forgot to bring their reusable bags, or left them in their cars.

“We then ask them if they would like to purchase a reusable bag on-the-spot, but most of them always say it’s alright - that they will just put the groceries in the shopping carts and unload the carts when they reach their cars,” he told The Brunei Times.

When asked about the situation on weekdays, the manager said “only a few people – only about one per cent of the customers - bring reusable bags, when it’s not the weekend.”

The Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation introduced the No Plastic Bag Weekend initiative in March 2011 to reduce overall plastic usage nationwide.

A Supa Save Beribi supermarket employee said even though about half of their customers regularly use reusable shopping bags, the customers who do were mostly expatriates.

“We find that there is still a general lack of awareness about No Plastic Bag Weekend among the locals.

“Customers often come in to shop on weekends and only find out that there are no plastic bags available when they reach the checkout counters to pay,” added the employee who did not want to be named.

The Supa Save employee said these customers often had to either buy reusable bags (which are sold at the supermarket counters), or find some other way to carry their groceries to their vehicles.

Meanwhile, employees at Utama Grand Superstore said they noted an increase in Bruneians’ usage of reusable bags on weekends.

However, they said it was rare to see customers bringing reusable bags during the weekdays.

Moreover, one employee said despite signs posted in the supermarket about ‘No Plastic Bag Weekend’, customers often forget that Fridays are included in the initiative.

“In these instances, we then often have to locate cardboard boxes for the customers who do not bring their reusable grocery bags, for them to carry their groceries,” she said.

JASTRE had estimated that no less than one million plastic bags (big and small) were given out to consumers per month in the sultanate.

In 2010, the then-director of JASTRE, Hj Md Zakaria Hj Sarudin, said plastic makes up about 20 per cent of the country’s total waste.

The department in 2012 decided to expand the ‘No Plastic Bag Weekend’ drive to include Fridays.

It previously said there were plans to include Mondays as part of its No Plastic drive, but the plan has yet to be implemented.

Environment groups last week called for a ban on plastic bags, saying that ‘No Plastic Bag Weekend’ should be made into a daily initiative.

The Brunei Times