SINGAPORE: The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Tuesday (Dec 28) urged members of the public to reduce the use of new notes in hongbao for the coming Chinese New Year to “support the environment and reduce queues at bank branches”.
Hongbao, or red packets, are traditionally handed out by married couples to children during Chinese New Year as a token of good luck.
The use of e-hongbao or reusing notes will reduce the environmental impact of issuing new notes, the authority said in a media release.
It added that it issues about 100 million new notes annually for Chinese New Year and other festive periods.
A “large proportion” of these notes, particularly the S$2 bills, are returned after Chinese New Year and subsequently destroyed as it “far exceeds normal circulation demand”.
“The carbon emissions from the production, transportation, and destruction of such new notes each year is highly wasteful, unnecessary, and impacts the environment negatively,” it said.
The authority added that it has been working with the Association of Banks in Singapore and financial technology firms to develop e-gifting alternatives to physical hongbao.
“E-hongbao are a safe, simple, and speedy way to convey blessings to family and friends and also enable family and friends who may be unable to meet during the pandemic to continue with the tradition of festive gifting,” it said.
“Those who prefer to give physical hongbao while doing their part for the environment are urged to reuse notes or give QR gift cards instead of using new notes.
“Most of the notes in circulation in Singapore are clean and of good quality, and suitable for use in festive gifting.”