PETALING JAYA: Environmental groups have reacted to the government’s decision to extend the 20sen plastic bag charge to all types of business premises in 2022, by calling for a complete ban on the use of plastic bags.
Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia (Peka) president Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil said if the government wanted to help reduce the single usage of plastic, it should completely ban it.
She said business operators made money from the 20sen charge, adding that what they did with the money should be made known.
“Business operators would be more than willing to sell plastic bags because they are making money and consumers do not mind forking out that amount because it is quite cheap.
“If the government is serious about reducing the use of plastic bags, it needs to start from the root... just ban it instead, ” she said.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail was reported to have said that the 20sen plastic bag charge would be extended to all types of business premises in 2022.
In her speech at the launch of the Love for Environment campaign in Subang Jaya on Saturday she said the move was among the key initiatives under the Roadmap Towards Zero Single-Use Plastics 2018-2030, which included a no-straw-by-default practice that encouraged users to drink directly from a cup or glass.
Sahabat Alam Malaysia secretary-general S. Mageswari said the move was counter-productive.
She also called for a total ban.
“There are many countries taking concrete steps to protect the environment by removing the use of plastic, ” she said.
She also said that the people needed to know what the 20sen collected was being used for, and whether the authorities were actually keeping tabs on how many plastic bags had been sold.
“Until now, we have yet to see any concrete proof what the money collected is used for. If there is a ‘no plastic’ day, what is the point of selling plastic bags for 20sen.
“It is simple, just do not sell it at the counters, ” she said.
Malaysian Nature Society president Prof Dr Ahmad Ismail said when the government first proposed the idea, hawkers and businesses complained that this would result in extra cost for them.
“If they charge 20sen, some will say it is too expensive, but if it is too cheap, we will not be able to change the public’s lifestyle. We should educate them aggressively, ” he said.
Prof Ahmad suggested that the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry start a campaign along with local authorities with the participation of state executive councils.
The Federal Government introduced the “No Plastic Bag Day” campaign every Saturday since Jan 1,2011.
Several states such as Selangor, Penang, Melaka, Perlis, Perak, Terengganu, Kelantan and Sarawak then followed suit.
In the Federal Territories, retailers are only allowed to provide biodegradable and compostable plastic bags.
From March, retailers also began charging customers 20sen for every plastic bag.
Besides this, several states also implemented the “Straws on Request” campaign, namely the Federal Territories (starting January 2019), Kedah and Penang (April 2019) and Selangor (July 2019).
From Jan 1 next year, plastic straws will be banned in the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan.