"No Plastic Bag Day" Campaign starts in Selangor.

18/01/2010 02:15


PETALING JAYA -  Selangor.Bring your own bags or pay 20sen for a plastic bag at some of the retail malls that observe a ‘No Plastic Bag Day’ on that day.

The state government started this campaign last Saturday, involving 20 big retailers that include hypermarkets, supermarkets, pharmacies and convenience stores.

State Tourism, Consumer and Environment committee chairman Elizabeth Wong hoping to get hundreds more to join after three months adding that the six-months campaign encourages lesser use of plastic bags.

“My office is getting calls from more companies wanting to pledge their support for the campaign and we encourage concerned groups and NGOs to take part, too,” she told reporters after a visit to the Jusco and Cold Storage outlets at the 1 Utama Shopping Centre in Bandar Utama here to distribute reusable bags and inform consumers about the campaign on Saturday.

Wong, an environmental activist, said the state government was working with the Malaysia Retailers Association to get the retailers’ support and the Malaysia Plastic Forum to get assistance in terms of lobbying for issues on plastic.

“The shoppers’ response was beyond expectations. It is encouraging to see the people in Selangor wanting to do something for the environment,” she said.

“The state government is intensifying the campaign by producing some 35,000 reusable bags for free distribution and putting up billboards.”

Targetting 50% reduction of plastic use

Wong said the state government will make an evaluation at the end of the campaign period to decide whether or not to extend it as well as make it part of the licensing requirements (for retailers).

“We hope to see a 50% reduction of free distribution of plastic bags in Selangor after six months.”

Welcoming the campaign, Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) communication head Andrew Sebastian said Malaysians should support activities that reduced the impact on the environment, especially waste.

“We are dealing with mindset change here. It takes time, but every little bit helps.

“There are many ways to carry out such campaigns, whether in phases or immediate implementation,” he told The Star.

“It would be great if the hypermarkets and retailers offer incentives to make it more exciting to encourage consumers to take up the initiative,” he said.

Centre for Environment, Technology and Development Malaysia (Cetdem) executive director Anthony Tan said; “People have to make it part of their lifestyle for the campaign to be truly effective.”

He cited the example of his family making it a conscious habit to bring reusable bags with them when they go out shopping, and bringing containers when they do their marketing at the pasar malam.

“The whole point of the campaign is to educate people on the need to reduce taking excessive and unnecessary number of plastic bags,” The Star reported Tan as saying.

Elsewhere on the globe

• In Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany and Holland, plastic bags are either taxed or require additional charges.

• In March 2002, Ireland introduced a plastic bag tax  - or PlasTax - on consumers,  designed to reduce rampant consumption of plastic shopping bags.

·In Oct 2001, Taiwan introduced a ban on distribution of free single-use plastic bags by government agencies, schools and the military. It was then expanded to supermarkets, fast-food outlets, department stores and convenience stores.

The ban was lifted in 2006 for food service operators to offer free plastic bags.

·In June 2008, China introduced a ban on flimsy plastic bags to reduce “white pollution” – the popular term for plastic bags and styrofoam packaging.

Under the new rules, the state forbade production of ultra-thin bags under 0.025mm thick and ordered supermarkets to stop giving away free bags.

·Switzerland requires supermarkets to charge $0.15-$0.20 (50 sen-70 sen) per paper bag. Most shoppers bring their own reusable shopping bags.

·In Britain, Marks & Spencers started charging 5pence (30sen) for carrier bags since May 2008.

·Bangladesh slapped an outright ban on all polyethylene bags in Dhaka in March 2002 after they were found to be choking the drainage system during two major floods that affected two-thirds of the country.

·In Denmark, the waste tax is differentiated so that it is most expensive to landfill waste, cheaper to incinerate it and tax exempt to recycle it. It also has “green” taxes on packaging, plastic bags, disposable tableware and nickel-cadmium batteries.

. In Kuala Lumpur, 10 MPs from the Federal Territory have submitted a petition to KL City Hall for the city to emulate Selangor’s ‘No Plastic Bag Day’ campaign.

(The above information were sourced from National Geographic News, The Guardian, Reusablebags.com. & Malaysan Mirror)

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