Some roadside drink vendors struggle to adjust to ‘no plastic straw’ ruling

  • Metro News
  • Thursday, 02 Jan 2020

Lim showing her stock of plastic straws left at her shop in Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, Penang. — Photos: ZAINUDIN AHAD/The Star

A DAY after the ban on plastic straw usage statewide in Penang started, it looks like there are still some who are not ready to comply with the new ruling.

While major food outlets have stopped giving out plastic straws, some small drink operators are still in two minds about it.

Coffee shop operator Lim Poh Suan, 58, said she still has over 1,200 sticks of plastic straws at her shop.

“We have served our drinks with straws for decades and stocked up quite a lot of them.

“Hopefully, we can finish all of them within two months.

“After that, we will no longer be serving drinks with straws and customers will have to pay for the paper or stainless steel straws, just like tissue papers being sold over the counter, ” she said.

Drink stall operator Nasurudeen Mohd Kassim, 38, who runs a roadside stall in Jalan Pasar, said the price of cold drinks would have to increase if biodegradable straws are used.

“I serve about 100 cups of cold drinks daily.

“I’m not sure if my customers would like the idea of sipping their drinks without a straw.

“If the biodegradable straws are expensive, the price of cold drinks may go up too, ” he said.

Checks show that many stall operators are still unaware of the new ruling but all said they would comply.

Penang welfare, caring society and environment committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said the educational enforcement would be conducted on the first six months from now.

“We have received good response from the major food outlets and most of them have stopped providing plastic straws since 2019.

“Utensil suppliers have shifted their manufacturing from using plastic to other organic materials such as bamboo, paper and rice, ” he said.

Phee said apart from the ban on plastic straws, retailers would also stop giving out plastic bags on a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

He said only plastic bags above thickness of 40 microns were allowed to be sold to customers on those days.

A survey by the Penang Green Council found that consumers’ vast consumption of plastic straws was due to its abundance and availability when given by default by business operators who found it convenient, easy to dispose of and affordable.

The survey on 1,948 consumers found 76% supporting the ban while less than 15% opposed it.

Under the ‘Malaysia’s Roadmap towards Zero Single-Use Plastics 2018-2030’, there will be no more single-use plastics by 2030.

The ambitious plan will see local councils imposing a ‘pollution charge’ and a ‘no straw by default’ policy.

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