GEORGE TOWN: The voluntary initiative to stop providing plastic bags to shoppers – even if they are willing to pay for it – will be extended to Wednesdays and Fridays from next year.
The existing “No Plastic Bag” campaign only applies to Monday.
Penang Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said the campaign was meant to create awareness on reducing single-use plastic.
“The extension is a continuation of our initiative following Penang’s success in being the first state to launch the ‘No Free Plastic Bag’ campaign in 2009, ” he said.
The Penang government introduced the “No Plastic Bag Day” in stages, starting with the ruling that free plastic bags would not be given on Mondays from July 2009.
It was extended to three days in a week in 2010, and daily in 2011 for certain businesses.
Plastic bags have to be bought at 20 sen each at hypermarkets, supermarkets, department stores, convenient stores, fast food restaurants, petrol stations, chain stores and pharmacies.
The policy does not apply to petty hawkers, traders at wet markets or stand-alone businesses.
Starting July 1, the state government brought the initiative one step further – no plastic bags for shoppers on Monday even if they are willing to pay 20 sen.
However, the initiative is on a voluntary basis, with no action taken against the fixed premises operators who do not take part.
In 2023, consumers will be charged RM1 for each plastic bag, with the move approved by the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry.The implementation of no single-use plastic such as plastic straws, plastic lids and cups will begin with an educational enforcement exercise in January.
It will then be followed by a verbal enforcement exercise next July before it goes fully operational in 2021.