Watsons SG to charge consumers for plastic bags as part of WWF campaign

Singapore’s health and beauty retail brand Watsons has launched its first sustainability campaign titled “#SayNoToPlasticBags”. The campaign aims to minimise plastic bag waste and maximise resource use from back to front-end operations. Partnering with Wide Fund for Nature (WWF Singapore), the retailer will introduce “Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB)” Tuesdays across all its 100 stores islandwide, and it will include more BYOB days moving forward.

During “Bring Your Own Bag” days, Watsons will be charging customers with a fee of SG$0.10 for each request for plastic bags.

All proceeds from the bag charge will then be donated to support WWF Singapore’s conservation efforts, including projects related to reducing plastic in nature.

Watsons aims to raise SG$50,000 through this campaign. Additionally, Watsons has recently rolled out its non-woven reusable bags priced to encourage customers to cut down the use of plastic bags. According to Watsons, the bags are made with 100% recyclable plastic and are durable.

Watsons’ sustainability campaign was prompted by its extensive use of plastic bags. The retailer said it issued close to 13 million plastic bags in 2019 alone. Aside from its BYOB Tuesdays, Watsons’ sustainability campaign also includes steps the introduction of plastic bags with 50% recycled plastic content by the first quarter of 2021. It existing plastic bags currently have 10% to 15% of recycled plastic content.

Through its sustainability efforts, Watsons hopes to educate the public about the impact of plastic to the environment, and provide more sustainable choices to customers by promoting refills and products with eco-friendly packaging in stores.

As a bigger commitment to being sustainable, Watsons’ parent company, A.S. Watsons, has also signed as one of the signatories of the New Plastic Economy Global Commitment, along with 450 brands worldwide. According to a press release, this initiative unifies the global value chain behind a common vision for upstream solutions, supported by action-oriented targets for sustainability.

Irene Lau, managing director of Watsons Singapore, said: “As a major player in the health and beauty arena, we understand the responsibility we have towards the environment. Taking ownership of our planet starts with small consistent actions, and that is where we are directing our efforts to.”

Kim Stengert, chief of strategic communications and external relations, WWF Singapore, added that it hopes the introduction of a bag charge and BYOB will get more consumers to carry reusable bags whenever they go shopping. “We are excited for Watsons to join the movement in reducing the use of single-use plastic bags,” Kim added.

Earlier this month, Watsons hit a milestone with its loyalty programme, surpassing 100 million members in Asia. Malina Ngai, CEO of A.S. Watson, Asia and Europe, said the COVID-19 pandemic has created stronger bonds between the retailer and its members, and it has been able to stay in touch with them and share relevant content. Ngai also revealed that Watsons is now growing at approximately one million new members every quarter. 

Established in 2008, Watsons' loyalty programme is said to offer insights which are used to better anticipate customers’ needs and to offer personalised shopping experience, both online and offline. Watsons' membership programme is now available across 14 markets worldwide, including Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, and Taiwan.

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(Photo courtesy: 123RF)

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