ISKANDAR PUTERI: The state government will enforce the use of biodegradable food containers in Johor from 2018 to replace plastic and polystyrene food containers.
State Health and Environment committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat (pic) said an awareness campaign to promote the use of biodegradable containers along with bio compost would be carried out between January and June next year.
He said that after June, supermarkets and hypermarkets would be encouraged to start using alternatives, including paper bags or any other biodegradable bags.
“Although we have yet to start our campaign, some food operators have taken the initiative to replace the use of polystyrene food containers,” he said, adding that RM250,000 had been allocated by the state government for the effort.
He said Johor Biotechnology and Biodiversity Corp (J-Biotech) would be spearheading the effort.
This included creating awareness, research as well as finding biodegradable alternatives for food operators.
Ayub said the state would also be looking into the pricing of the biodegradable containers.
Although costlier compared to polystyrene containers, he said, prices would fall when there was greater demand.
“If the difference is only about five to 10 sen, it should not be an issue,” said Ayub.
He also applauded the effort by supermarkets and hypermarkets that introduced “no plastic bag days” on Saturdays and hoped they would extend this to other days.
“We also encourage local councils to take part in conducting awareness programmes, especially before we start enforcing it in 2018,” he said.
He pointed out that Selangor took two years before enforcing a ban on polystyrene food containers, which takes effect next month.
Ayub said that the effort was vital for the environment, as Johor produced about 1,800 tonnes of rubbish per day, including 360 tonnes of polystyrene and plastic.
Disposal of the waste costs the state RM360mil every year, he said.
On a separate matter, he said, Johor had to date recorded a 31% decline on dengue cases with 10,567 cases this year compared to 15,777 cases in the corresponding period in 2015.
He said the number of deaths from dengue also declined by 50% with 22 deaths recorded compared to the 44 deaths in the same period last year.