Singapore’s leading health and beauty retailer, Watsons, has recently extended its successful “Bring Your Own Bag” (BYOB) initiative from a one-day implementation on every Tuesday to three days a week, across Mondays to Wednesdays.
During these three days, plastic bags are given out only upon customers’ request and are charged at $0.10 for every transaction. All proceeds collected from the plastic bags charge will be donated to support World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF-Singapore) conservation efforts, including critical projects related to reducing plastic in nature.
The BYOB Difference
In 2019, close to 13 million plastic bags were issued by Watsons to customers when they make purchases. This staggering amount led to a concerted decision to cut down the handing out of plastic bags at the retail stores with the launch of BYOB initiative on 1 December 2020 across all Watsons stores.
Over the last 10 months, the consumption of plastic bags at the retail stores was reduced by over 75% on BYOB day (Tuesdays).
“We are heartened by the support of our customers who have embraced this initiative and have proactively turned down our plastic bags when making payment. Plastic bags are a part of the shopping journey for many and as a major retailer, we feel we need to act and do our part for the better of our community and the environment we live in. Every bit helps and the important thing is to take action. The more retailers jump on board to promote bringing your own bag as a habit, the more people will do away with single use and bring a
recyclable bag with them wherever they go. We find plastic bags an easy change that everyone can start with,” shared Irene Lau, Managing Director of Watsons Singapore.
Watsons has also introduced HDPE plastic bags with 50% recycled plastic content, up from its previous 10-15%, as another dedicated step towards building a more sustainable world.
Plans are also underway to launch a plastic recycling program at the retail stores by Q1 2022.
Watsons Shoppers Care About Sustainability
To better understand its customers’ sustainable behaviour and their perception on Watsons’ social purpose, a
Sustainable Branding survey was conducted between June and August 21 across seven markets, namely Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey with 3,500 Watsons members, aged
15+, who have purchased any Personal Care, Skincare or Cosmetics products in the past three months.
The survey found that 72% of respondents felt that it is important for a retailer, like Watsons, to promote a
sustainable lifestyle and 70% agreed that Watsons is performing well in the core attributes for being a
sustainable retailer by offering sustainable product choices, implementation of environmental protection
initiatives and promotion of sustainable lifestyle.
The two main criteria for Watsons shoppers when choosing sustainable Beauty and Personal Care products are trustworthiness and value with 87% of the respondents sharing that they are willing to switch to sustainable choices if the products are cheaper or of the same price as their regular products.
Watsons shoppers are also generally sustainability conscious with 78% of respondents bringing along their own shopping bag as a key sustainable practice in their everyday life.
An astounding 94% of respondents expressed strong interest in refill stations of bath & body and household products at Watsons stores and see refill stations as a way to build consumers’ trust and help enhance the image of the retailer on sustainability efforts.
Choose Sustainable Choices For A Sustainable World
In its bid towards inculcating a stronger sustainability mindset amongst its consumers and providing sustainable options across personal care and beauty needs, Watsons introduced the Sustainable Choices category in October 2020 in its physical retail stores as well as online to curate and offer products that fall within four identified pillars:
- Clean Beauty – brands that are recognised by Watsons for using ingredients consumers trust will protect them, with additional environmental benefits and which support the local community.
- Refill – products that come with refill packs or instore refilling stations to enable customers to keep using the original containers or bottles.
- Better Ingredients – products use quality ingredients from sustainable sources, sourced responsibly or have reduced plastic content in non-formulated products.
- Better Packaging – products that have chosen “better plastic”, such as recycled plastics or sustainably sourced paper in its packaging.
The category started with over 160 products and has since increased five-fold to offer close to 900 products, from personal care, makeup to household items, that embrace the sustainable ethos and lifestyle.
In a trial curation of the Sustainable Choices products earlier this year, the sales of some of the products had increased by over 300%, including CUREL Intensive Moisture Care Foaming Facial Wash Refill, DR BRONNER’S All-One Toothpaste Spearmint, Watsons 3ply Box Tissue, amongst others.
A dedicated Clean Beauty zone could be found at Watsons JEM and The Shoppes At Marina Bay Sands stores. You may also locate products under Sustainable Choices at other Watsons stores by looking out for the Sustainable Choices wobblers.
Shoppers can also look forward to the first-ever refill station for Naturals by Watsons shampoos and bath products and plastics recycling at Watsons JEM by Q1 2022.
Joining over 450 brands worldwide, Watsons’ parent company, A.S. Watsons has also signed as one of the signatories of the New Plastic Economy Global Commitment. This initiative unifies the global value chain behind a common vision for upstream solutions, supported by action-oriented targets for sustainability.