useless. If the government is sincere in solving the environmental
problem, it should have done it with less cost and improved revenue,
but alas it is more interested in getting quick profits. It was the
opposition parties that had started these campaigns starting from
What the government did was to blame its citizens for spoiling the
environment. The answer is very simple. Tax these non-biodegradable
substances heavily while removing taxes for those that are
boidegradable. Everything solved. Why ask consumers to pay 20 sens
more so that supermarkets can become even richer which plastic is
still being used indiscriminately.
If the government is really sincere, then ban all plastics. Rwanda did
it and it is among the cleanest in the world now.
February 07, 2011 19:20 PM
Kudos For Malaysia's No Plastic Bag Day Campaign
By Nooralisa Basiron and Siti Syawana Misni
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 7 (Bernama) -- As for the average Malaysian, the
plastic bag is indispensable in the shopping routine.
Thus, the plastic bag consumption rate is exceptionally high with the
average consumption per individual amounting to eight per week and
there are concerns over its safe disposal.
Experts say it may take between 100 and 500 years for the plastic bags
to degrade completely and the process emits carbon emissions that
contributes to global warming.
It is estimated that Malaysians on average produce 19,000 tonnes of
solid waste annually with plastic bags and products representing 24
per cent of the total waste.
ENCOURAGE GREEN TECHNOLOGY
The government has taken numerous efforts to conserve the environment,
among others by developing green technology like stated in the 2010
Awareness activities like greening the surroundings and environmental
friendly lifestyle are encouraged, and places like Putrajaya and
Cyberjaya are to be benchmarked as Green Technology Towns.
Concurrent with these efforts, the Ministry of Domestic Trade,
Cooperatives and Consumerism has launched the "Use Less Plastic Bags"
and "No Plastic Bag Day" to reduce the use of plastic bags.
Starting Jan 1, 2011, on every Saturday plastic bags are no longer
provided for free in hypermarkets, supermarkets, departmental stores,
convenience shops and selected business premise all over the nation.
For those who still can't do away with their plastic bag habit, they
have to pay 20 sen for each plastic bag.
THE ORIGINS OF NO PLASTIC BAG DAY
The "No Plastic Bag Day" campaign though still new here, it in fact
backdates to 2002.
For example, Ireland has been imposing taxes on plastic bags since
2002 and this helped to reduce the plastic bag consumption by 90 per
In the United States, San Francisco also followed suit while Los
Angeles effective July 1, 2010 also banned the use of plastic bags and
went further by imposing 25 cents for paper bags to encourage
consumers to use their own bags when shopping.
In Malaysia, Penang started the ball rolling by launching the "No
Plastic Bag Day" campaign on July 6, 2009 in shopping outlets that
helped to reduce the plastic bag consumption by one million within
The campaign was then extended to three days a week, every Monday,
Tuesday and Wednesday effective Jan 1, 2010 and effective Jan 1, 2011
Penang achieved the ultimate "No More Free Plastic Bags Any Day".
In the Klang Valley, and other areas in Selangor hypermarkets like
Tesco, Carrefour, Giant, and smaller outlets like Speedmart, Seven
Eleven and others took part in the campaign by not providing free
plastic bags every Saturday.
The 20 sen collected for each plastic bag will be channeled to welfare
bodies or used for environment or consumer programmes.
ALTERNATIVES TO PLASTIC BAGS
The sincere efforts and unwavering commitment from all parties to the
campaign points to a good start in reducing the use of plastic bags
and finding alternatives that are environmental friendly.
The Environmental Management and Research Association of Malaysia's
(ENSEARCH) Secretary General, Geetha P. Kumaran noted that the
campaign to reduce the use of plastic bags should be followed up with
campaigns promoting the use bio-degradable plastics.
"The plastic bags cannot be replaced with paper bags that are costly.
Therefore, the fibre bags are the solution," she said through an e-
mail to Bernama.
According to Geetha, still the better solution would be through
innovation and green technology.
Based on a survey, 128 of the 170 respondents gave thumbs up for the
campaign that is considered as a brilliant effort in conserving the
"As consumers we should be aware on why it is important to take care
of the environment by carrying the environmental friendly bags and
only use the plastic bags as a last resort. Consumers too should not
ask for plastic bags if they are only buying a few things," noted
Nurul Aini Abdullah, a consumer when asked on the use of the plastic
A salesman, Jojo, opined that consumers have to be thought the
practice of recycling as it could save the environment from pollution.
On the move by the government to impose 20 sen for each plastic bag,
most consumers are favourable as this move will serve as a reminder
for them to bring their own bags when shopping.
Geetha also opined that the 20 sen figure should be maintained for all
plastic bags in line with the rising prices of food and other
Nevertheless, there are a few who find the campaign burdensome.
Megat, a trader, was not in favour because consumers would have to
face inconvenience especially when buying food.
"Paper bags can be used but they are not durable like the plastic
bags. Moreover, paper bags are costly and that is why traders prefer
to use the plastic bags," he said.
"Other inhibiting factors are some department stores and supermarkets
don't allow shoppers to carry in their bags to deter shoplifting, and
this is a put off for shoppers," said a shopper who only wanted to be
known as Kamaruddin.
A JOINT RESPONSIBILITY
As for the consumers, the general consensus is that in ensuring the
effectiveness of the campaign the government has to continue with the
Apart from the media publicity, those involved in the campaign have to
join hands with the NGOs to create awareness on the campaign
especially in the outskirts.
Apart from this, the management of shopping centres should also be
more firm and provide wholehearted support for the campaign.
Other effective alternatives to plastic bags should be considered as
well in achieving the campaign goals.
So if you are asked to pay 20 sen for a plastic bag after this, think
twice. Make it a habit of taking a recyclable bag with you during your