Educate instead of charging more for plastic bags, state urged

(From left) Gerakan president Datuk Dr Dominic Lau Hoe Chai and Oh talking to a vendor during a walkabout at the Cecil Street market in George Town.

REDUCING plastic usage should start from education instead of raising the charge for each plastic bag to 50sen from 20sen, said Penang Gerakan chairman Oh Tong Keong.

He said the state government should look at ways to teach the young to love the environment and educate them.

“Yes, we do agree with the initiative to reduce plastic usage but it should start with a better way.

“This should involve education and awareness.

“Otherwise, it’ll be an additional burden to the people,” he said after a walkabout at the Cecil Street market on Sunday.

A news portal had earlier reported that the Penang government was considering raising the charge for each plastic bag to 50sen as the 20sen charge was found ineffective in reducing its usage.

The Penang government had introduced the ‘No Plastic Bag Day’ in stages, starting with the ruling that no free plastic bag would be given on Mondays from July, 2009.

It extended to three days in a week in 2010, and daily in 2011 for certain businesses.

Plastic bags have to be bought at 20sen each at hypermarkets, supermarkets, departmental stores, convenient stores, fast food restaurants, petrol stations, chain stores and pharmacies.

The policy does not apply to petty hawkers, those at wet markets and stand-alone businesses.

Oh said the 150% increase — from 20sen to 50sen — would be an additional burden to the people.

He said if the state government was serious in its effort to save the environment, then they should start with the state-run newsletter Buletin Mutiara. “We support fully the initiatives by the state government to go green and save the environment.

“But if they really want to lead by example, then Buletin Mutiara should go fully digital and stop distributing the newsletters,” he said.

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