Since March 15, traders are allowed to charge consumers 20sen for each biodegradable plastic bag but there is no compulsion.
Federal Territories Ministry’s strategic development division secretary Lokman Jamaan said the charge would be used to offset the price of biodegradable plastic bags, which had always been borne by retailers.
“The production cost of biodegradable plastics is higher than conventional plastics. “On average, a biodegradable bag can cost between 15 and 25sen while conventional plastic ones cost between six and 12sen.”
When asked if there had been a reduction in the use of conventional or biodegradable plastic bags since the ban was introduced, Lokman said it was difficult to measure as the 20sen went to the retailer.
StarMetro had previously reported that only 60% of restaurants and 80% of shopping complexes had complied since the implementation of biodegradable plastic bags in the Federal Territories in 2017
Those who had yet to make the switch to biodegradable plastic bags were mostly small traders at wet and night markets as well as food stalls.
It was also found that some traders opted for photo-degradable or oxo-biodegradable plastic bags, which were cheaper than the Sirim-certified biodegradable
A mini market proprietor, CK Meng, said the 20sen charge did not fully cover the cost of biodegradable bags.
“It can cost about 30sen per piece when buying 100 medium-sized bio-bags.
“I cannot purchase these bags in bulk because of their short shelf life. I usually encourage my customers to bring their own bags,”
Another retailer, who declined to be named, said he purchased bio-bags through a supplier online.
“He was selling the bags at least 30% cheaper and it has the ‘biodegradable’ stamp on it,” he claimed.
Some manufacturers have also been found to be passing off fake bio-based plastic bags as 100% biodegradable.
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