Selangor will step up its enforcement on the ban of single-use plastic and polystyrene packaging next year, says state tourism, environment, green technology and Orang Asli affairs committee chairman Hee Loy Sian.
“We acknowledge that there has been a relaxation in terms of enforcement, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic period.
“There was a grace period for over two years as traders and restaurant operators were struggling because of the effects of the pandemic.
“As a caring government, we also did not want to burden them, hence the relaxation of enforcement measures,” Hee explained.
However, the use of plastic bags became more widespread during the pandemic due to the increase in takeaways and food deliveries, he added.
And now that the grace period is over, the state government, through the local authorities, plans to take stricter action next year.
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“We may even revoke the business operators’ licences if they do not comply with the state’s guidelines on plastic bags, such as using polystyrene containers (banned since 2010), and not charging customers for plastic bags (20sen per bag),” he said, adding that use of degradable bags was also subject to a similar charge.
Hee said the amount collected from plastic bag charges had been increasing yearly.
“We collected over RM6mil in 2020 and about RM8mil in 2021.
“We collected over RM4mil in the first six months of this year, and expect the amount to exceed RM9mil by the end of this year.”
Hee said this in response to a supplementary question by Elizabeth Wong Keat Ping (PH-Bukit Lanjan).
Wong had referred to a Dec 3 report in StarMetro on single-use plastic making a comeback at restaurants and food courts managed by local councils, and asked about the enforcement action taken to ensure state policies were adhered to.
Hee added that the state government would also review the effectiveness of the 20sen charge for plastic bags.
“The review is to assess whether the charges have been effective in reducing the widespread use of plastic bags,” he said.
“If it has not, we may look at stricter measures such as increasing the existing fee or introduce a ‘Zero Plastic Bag Day’ where plastic bags cannot be purchased at all.”
To another supplementary question by Dr Idris Ahmad (PH-Ijok) on whether the state government planned to ban the use of plastic bags altogether, Hee said there was a need to offer sufficient alternatives such as reusable bags and biodegradable bags first.
He said it was also important to ensure people were properly educated on the impact of single-use plastic bags on the environment.
Hee reiterated that the state government was still targeting a complete ban on single-use plastic bags by 2025.
The Selangor state assembly sitting, which started on Nov 26, has adjourned sine die (indefinitely).