We have a huge problem with plastic waste on this planet. Apart from the fact that it is simply disgusting, displaying our careless disregard for the environment, the problem has wide repercussions – literally. There is a global crisis in plastic waste and we Malaysians are major contributors to it. It isn’t surprising that we were ranked 8th as the worst country worldwide for plastic waste by Science Magazine in 2015.
Now, according to FMT, Selangor Exco – Hee Loy Sian said the state government is considering raising the 20 sen charge for each plastic bag in order to reduce its use. Apparently, the 20 cent charge for plastic bags executed since 2010 has no major impact.
“Many shoppers still use plastic bags. It seems like 20 cents for them is too cheap. They are willing to pay RM1 to get five plastic bags,” he said when contacted by FMT. Selangor started implementing the “Day Without Plastic Bag” campaign in 2010, with the support of most hypermarkets, mini markets and business premises.
Every Saturday, Selangor consumers had to pay 20 cents for each plastic bag with the money channelled to welfare bodies or conservation programmes for the environment. The campaign, which also aimed to stop polystyrene food containers, was then extended to a daily basis from 1 Jan ’17 onwards.
Hee also said that a survey conducted with hypermarkets operators found the campaign to have a good effect, but has not yet reached a satisfactory level. “We want to gradually give time to consumers so they will not use plastic bags in the future. This is likely to take a long time to educate,” he said.
He added that the state government would likely discuss with stakeholders before making a final decision. There will be more awareness campaigns that would begin in primary schools.
In line with the country’s efforts to go green, KL state has imposed a rule for residents to separate their trash, however it is still unenforced.
Whether the state government does decide to raise the price of plastic bags or try a different approach, we’ll have to wait and see. But we shouldn’t let the government tell us what to do when it comes to the issue of the environment, ’cause we ought to know ourselves.
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