What is happening to ” No Plastic bag Ban” in Malaysia ?
Penang and Selangor have taken the lead to discourage and ban the use of plastic bags in retail outlets and supermarkets. This is so to reduce the amount of waste that would otherwise has to go to our already over stocked land fill. Moreover, it is reputed that it may take plastic bags over 1000 years to break down.
Penang has started a “no plastic bag campaign” since July 2009 commencing with a one day and now extended to 3 days per week banned. It was reported that as a result of the campaign consumption of bags have fallen by a million bags. With a 3 days ban it will be 3 million saved over a period of 6 months or 6 million saved over 12 months. This means a saving or otherwise 6 million more bags will fill our land field or worse clogged the drains and water ways. The next step in Penang is that as the campaign rolled along, the State Government has warned that retail license of the retailers might not be renewed unless among other things, they joined the campaign. So far, it appeared the campaign is going nicely along.
Meanwhile in Selangor, the campaign has just started with a No Plastic bag ban on every Saturdays. When it was first started they were some confusion but it seemed that most of the retailers especially the bigger ones are very supportive of the campaigns. Even the consumers have supported the No Plastic bags ban.
I read that 10 MPs from KL Federal Territory have lobbied the Ministry of the FT to start a similar campaign there. Hopefully, something good would come of it.
At the Federal level, whilst they had been discussion, no concrete announcement has been made on these issues. I suppose the Federal would prefer to see how the campaign develops at the state levels. If the bigger states like Penang and Selangor takes the lead very soon other states will follow.
In 2008 the then new minted Mayor of Kuching announced that the Council was looking at banning plastic bag –nothing seems to have happened since then. I know Miri and Sibu Councils are leading in the campaigns.
What is happening in Sabah and Brunei?
Whilst it is good for environmental reasons to ban the over use of plastic bags, let us also consider the plight of the factories making this bags. They would have to close down. Perhaps they should be encouraged to close down and the Government to compensate them for their losses. In Penang and Selangor on the day of the No Plastic Bag banned, plastic bags are available for sale at 20 cents each. In Penang the money collected goes to fund the Poverty Eradication Fund, and why not build up a fund in this manner for the voluntary closures of the plastic bags factories.
Another point I would like to make is to make sure for the campaign to be successful it is important to educate the consumers and to get their trust and commitments. I read that consumers in Penang and Selangor are supportive of the No Plastic Bag Day.
As a business man, I see that as the supply of plastic bags falls, it would in any case become more expensive. This means that the consumers may have to pay more than 20 cents per bag if they want to buy one. This means that SME could look into the production of alternative less polluting bags –such as paper bags (going bags to the old days) and Green bags.
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