GEORGE TOWN: Penang is aiming to have a polystyrene-free Thaipusam celebration.
State Health, Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said the state Thaipusam organising committee had been told not to use polystyrene when serving meals to devotees.
“However, we are worried about devotees who will come from all over the country and bring such containers with them,” he said, adding that he would meet Deputy Chief Minister (II) Dr P. Ramasamy to discuss the no-polystyrene policy during Thaipusam.
Earlier, Phee visited a multi-purpose hall in Sungai Dua, Butterworth, and was shocked to see a sea of polystyrene litter.
“The hall, which is managed by the district office, was recently rented out.
“I was shocked that even the drains were filled with the containers,” he said yesterday.
Phee added that he would inform all relevant quarters on the anti-polystyrene stand.
“They should make sure that whoever rents government-owned premises maintained the cleanliness of the place,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Consumers Association of Penang called on temples observing Thaipusam not to use polystyrene containers when serving food to devotees.
CAP education officer N.V. Subbarow said polystyrene garbage, when burned, emitted dangerous chemicals that posed health threats.
“During Thaipusam, charity organisations provide free food. Most of them use polystyrene plates and cups when serving as it is a convenient way to manage large crowds.
“As a result, lots of polystyrene garbage is produced yearly,” he said in a statement here.
He added that polystyrene took around 500 years to degrade.
Furthermore, added Subbarow, polystyrene packaging normally contained residual chemicals which were absorbed by the body and posed numerous health problems.
“As Thaipusam is a religious festival, it’s important that devotees are not exposed to harmful chemicals.