Opt for less plastic as new norm

Bags of plastic waste dumped at an illegal dumpsite in Penang. — Filepic

MALAYSIANS have been enjoying the comfort of having food delivered to our doorsteps during the movement control order (MCO) period.

As an ardent patron of the many grocery and food delivery services, I can avoid the long queues at my favourite eateries.

The delivery service is especially crucial to avoid the risk of Covid-19 infection.

I was told there was a spike in demand for food delivery services during the MCO period.

But thinking of the huge amount of single-use plastic bags, cutlery and containers delivered to homes nationwide on a daily basis is indeed scary and led me to imagine a nightmarish global warming scenario.

According to the Waste Management Association of Malaysia (WMAM), the waste generated in residential areas increased by 20% to 30% after the MCO was implemented.

I am not here to point fingers as I am also a guilty party who has been ordering delivery meals on a regular basis.

But there is food for thought for those involved in the food industry with regards to packaging options.

For instance, a meal that I ordered came in a paper container closed with a single-use plastic lid.

The lid could have been easily replaced with an equally strong paper lid as the meal is not required to be kept warm.

And I realise there are always the additional plastic bags which we don’t actually need since the drinks are properly sealed.

There are many eco-friendly and biodegradable packaging options to replace plastic containers which are probably more cost- effective and convenient.

We have heard about plastic bags which were burned or illegally dumped in many parts of the country including Penang, Kedah, Selangor and Sarawak.

In 2019, the Centre for International Environmental Law published a report on the impact of plastic on climate change.

According to the report, by 2050, plastic could emit 56 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases, as much as 14% of the earth’s remaining carbon budget.

By July 2021, it would be a no-go for single-use plastic in Penang.

The move is in line with the Federal Government’s efforts to encourage eco-friendly products to substitute single-use plastic under the Roadmap Towards Zero Single-Use Plastics 2018-2030.

Perhaps all this necessitated some changes to my lifestyle.

I will start bringing a tiffin carrier to pack food and keep two recycling bags in my handbag as I believe every small step towards protecting the environment counts.

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