Shoppers laud RM1 plastic bag fee

Reduce and reuse: Free boxes for customers to ‘bag’ their groceries at Sunshine Square in Bayan Lepas — CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Even though plastic bags will cost RM1 each from Jan 1, many Penangites welcome the move and feel it will be great for the environment.

From Mondays to Wednesdays next year, retailers will no longer give plastic bags while from Thursdays to Sundays, you will have to pay RM1 to get one compared with 20 sen now.

And all the shoppers interviewed seem to love the idea.

Chef Norshelyaida Hasan, 25, said plastic bags were not only bad for the environment but inconvenient too.

“I always have a few reusable bags with me at all times. Even if I forget to bring them while buying something, I just buy another reusable bag.

“Plastic bags cannot be used many times and if the contents are heavy, they tend to tear.

“With the charge going up from 20 sen to RM1, I hope it encourages more people to use reusable bags, ” she said when met at Sunshine Square in Bayan Baru yesterday.

Undergraduate Richie Loh, 20, who was helping his grandmother with her groceries, welcomed the new price for plastic bags.

“It is good as it will encourage more people to use reusable bags.

“It is time to think ahead and look at the larger picture, ” he said.

Loh urged those who might be against the RM1 charge to be more open-minded and think about the environment.

Unit trust consultant Damon Lok, 26, said increasing the plastic bag charge was a good way to make everyone go green.

“This will encourage more people to bring a bag along, ” he said.

Sunshine Wholesale Mart Sdn Bhd director Yee Kam Ming said the supermarket would support the state’s move.

“More than 60% of our customers bring their own bags. Only last-minute shoppers tend to forget.

“We do sell reusable bags and many opt to buy them when they forget their bags.

“When the RM1 charge begins next year, we may work with our suppliers to offer free reusable bags if shoppers purchase a particular amount of goods, ” he said.

Yee said for the last six years, his supermarket has been offering free boxes for those who buy in bulk to take away their goods.

Gama Supermarket and Departmental Store senior manager Leong Hau Soon said they would fully support the move to reduce plastic use.

“Tourists are usually the ones who don’t bring their own bags.

“Now with the pandemic on, we only get local customers. They are mindful and always bring their own bags.

“Even when they forget their bags, they opt to buy reusable ones, ” she said.

Retailers in Penang collect the money shoppers pay for plastic bags and forward it to the state government to fund environmental management projects.

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