SEREMBAN: Forget about single-use plastic products. Bring your own food containers and cutlery to work – that’s what the government is strongly encouraging the 1.7 million civil servants to do as it heads towards a zero single-use plastic nation by 2030.
In a directive issued by the Chief Secretary to the Government, all ministries and government agencies have been instructed to hold campaigns to stop the use of such products at their premises and official events.
Among a host of practical ways to achieve the goal, Datuk Seri Dr Ismail Bakar said that using plastic products such as drinking bottles for one time only and then discarding it, must be stopped and replaced with glass ones or jugs.
“Avoid plastic wrap to cover food; opt for reusable covers instead. Also avoid single-use plates, cups, bowls or any cutlery as well as plastic straws.
“Similarly, water dispensers should be made available for refills,” he said in the directive which also applies to government-linked companies, statutory bodies and local councils.
Ismail said the government was committed to reducing pollution caused by plastic use, which has adversely affected the environment, public health and national economy.
He noted that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had voiced his concern on the matter previously and proposed that the ban on single-use products start with plastic bags and straws.
The Cabinet, said Ismail, then endorsed the Malaysia Roadmap Towards Zero Single-Use Plastics 2018-2030 initiative last October and all ministries were asked to start campaigns to ban single-use plastic products at government offices.
“The details of the roadmap were subsequently tabled at the Mentris Besar and Chief Ministers’ meeting and at ministry secretaries-general and heads of services’ meeting and supported by all members,” he added.
To ensure the success of the campaign, government servants are also encouraged to bring their own food containers, forks and spoons for personal use.
“They can use woven or other special bags which can be used again to pack food at their cafeteria,” said Ismail.
He said all ministries and government agencies could also use their communication platforms, including social media, to espouse dropping single-use plastic items.
A study by the survey agency YouGov Omnibus found that about 22% of the 1,013 Malaysians polled still used plastic straws daily while about 24% used plastic bags at least once a day.The survey also showed that about 91% believed conserving the environment was important, with 44% saying the government had the biggest role to play.