Higher cost of environs-friendly containers cause for concern

A worker arranging polystyrene and biodegradable plastic food containers at a store in Taman Johor Jaya, Johor Baru.

JOHOR BARU: Many food operators are still hesitant about making the switch from polystyrene containers to environmentally-friendly food packaging due to the higher cost involved.

Federation of Hawkers and Petty Traders Association Malaysia president Yow Boon Choon said the difference in cost was about 1:3 in ratio and some of them were not keen to pay more for the environmentally-friendly food packaging such as biodegradable plastic containers.

He said such food packaging costs about 20 sen each compared to the few sen for each conventional polystyrene container.

Yow, also Johor South Petty and Mobile Traders Association chairman, said the traders did realise that it was a healthier choice and better for the environ­ment to make the switch but that the cost is still a main concern for them.

“At least 30% of the food operators in Johor have already made the switch from polystyrene ahead of the state government’s move to make Johor plastic and polystyrene-free starting from January 1 next year.

“The remaining operators have expressed their fear that the new packaging would increase their operational costs.

“But I am sure that once more people start to use and get used to the environmentally-friendly containers, the price will become cheaper,” he said.

He said most food operators absorb the cost of takeaway con­tainers and only a small number impose such charges on customers, which varies from 30 sen to 50 sen.

Yow said the federation had advised food and beverage operators, especially in Johor, to make the switch soon as it benefits the consumers and gives them peace of mind when taking away their food in environmentally-friendly packaging.

He said he hopes that they would gradually start making the switch so that there would not be a rush to buy the new containers when the time draws near for the ruling to be implemented.

“I also hope the state government will be strict and firm in the implementation of the no-polystyrene ruling come next year.

“This is to prevent the traders from suffering losses once they stock up on the new takeaway containers and also inconsistency,” he added.

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