‘Declare and surrender monies for plastic bags’

Hee (second from left) and Sayuthi at the briefing on the collection of plastic bag charges at PJ Civic Centre.

IT IS estimated that some RM5mil will be collected within a year from the 20sen shoppers pay for a plastic bag in Selangor.

State environment, green technology, science and consumer affairs committee chairman Hee Loy Sian said starting Jan 1, businesses were required to register with their respective local councils for the plastic bag charges.

The local council would then issue a certificate indicating that the premises was participating in the collection programme, he said, adding that the certificate must be displayed at the premises.

Businesses are also required to declare and surrender monies collected to the local council.

“The money collected will be channelled to the state and local council’s trust fund (Tabung Amanah).

“Sixty percent goes to the state and 40% to the local council. The money will be used for environment-related causes.

“The larger share for the state will offset the anticipated poor collection from more remote municipalities and district councils.

“This will enable us to carry out environment-related programmes throughout Selangor. Our aim is to ensure that we phase out plastic entirely by 2025. We do not want the collection to increase. We want it to decrease.

“The programme’s purpose is not to gain revenue but for the health of the environment, ” said Hee after attending a briefing on the plastic bag charge collection at the PJ Civic Centre. The event was attended by business owners from Petaling Jaya as well as representatives from all local councils.

Businesses are required to follow rules set by each local council for the collection of the 20sen charge.

The state, however, has a guideline listing four options for the payment mechanism.

The first is for businesses to surrender the collection once a month while the second option is to give the money twice a month.

The third option is for them to surrender monies collected every three months while the fourth option is every six months.

Monies collected are to be surrendered before the 15th of the month. Receipts will be issued and these must be shown when renewing business licences.

Businesses can also opt to not dispense plastic and apply to the state to have this certified.

The certificate will say that the premises does not give out plastic bags. The certificate must be displayed at all times and no collection is to be done.

Hee said the certificate indicating that the shop does not provide plastic bags must be renewed yearly.

On Oct 10,2018, the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry approved Malaysia’s Roadmap Towards Zero Single Use Plastics 2018-2030 to curb environmental problems.

However, Hee said the biggest challenge faced by the authorities was compliance with the “no plastic bag” rule as well as the ban on straws.

“We are still taking a soft approach through education and awareness. Schools and universities will be involved in the process too.

“A promotional video to encourage people not to use plastic will be aired on national TV stations for a month, ” he said.

Based on a Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research done in Dec 2018, some 91% of respondents said they were aware of the no-plastic campaign.

The survey revealed that 81% agreed with the campaign’s implementation while 78% supported the Selangor government’s effort to ban plastics.

Some 76% said the campaign was not troublesome and 90% understood that plastic bags were bad for the environment.

“However, the research cited a decrease in public confidence over the money collected from charges imposed for plastic bags, ” said Hee.

The “no plastic bag” campaign has been in place since 2010.

“It has been a decade since Selangor introduced the No Plastic Bag Day on Saturdays. It is time malls, supermarkets and retail chains register with their local council for the plastic bag charges.”

Registration of the premises will also enable the state to have an actual figure of plastic consumption since the ban was implemented.

Also present was mayor Datuk Mohd Sayuthi Bakar who said 38,058 premises would register with the Petaling Jaya City Council for the programme.

Organic farming coordinator Tan Siew Luang said the government must carry out enforcement otherwise the programme would not meet its objective.

She said the money should be utilised to help small-and-medium businesses come up with environmentally-friendly packaging.

“There should be tangible outcomes from the money collected. Local councils and state government should create eco-friendly products to help small businesses.”

Universiti Malaya Institute of Ocean and Earth Sciences director Prof Dr Sumiani Yusoff hopes the money is used to set up more neighbourhood recycling centres.

It should also go for research and development in green products as well as food composting machines in council-managed food courts.

“Map a proper strategy to support a more circular-based economy, ” she said.

The All Party Parliamentary Group Malaysia on Sustainable Development Goals finance officer Anthony Tan wants the money collected to be used for critical matters.

“Local governments could use the funds for pressing matters for which they lack money such as the spay and neuter programme for stray animals. They must identify and plan properly based on needs, ” he said.

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