Single-use plastic bags still in use


Cleaner beaches: Volunteers taking part in the World Cleanup Day event at Bayan Mutiara, Penang.

GEORGE TOWN: You have to pay RM1 for a plastic bag that costs less than five sen at most shops in Penang, but even with a “penalty” like that to reduce their use, local authorities still collected RM1mil last year from shoppers.

Penang Island City Council Mayor Datuk A. Rajendran said Penangites still go through a lot of single-use plastic bags with more than RM900,000 collected by the Penang Island City Council (MBPP).

He estimated there will be a slight reduction to RM800,000 this year.

“The MBPP collects over 800 tonnes of waste daily, and 15% to 20% of that total is made up of plastic wastes,” he told reporters after attending a World Cleanup Day event at the beach in Persiaran Bayan Indah yesterday.

Also present was MBPP councillor Tan Soo Siang.

Rajendran added that the sale of such plastic bags is only allowed from Thursday to Sunday and with a RM1 charge.

Penang started its “No Plastic Bag Day” in 2009. The purpose is to increase public awareness of the importance of environmental protection to reduce the number of plastic bags used that are harmful to the environment and reduce the state’s expenditure on the cost of solid waste disposal.

“And to further counter the use of plastic bags, we have come up with a Love Your Environment video aimed at children in kindergartens and primary schools.

“We need to educate them from young to reduce, reuse and recycle, and also to love and take care of our environment,” Rajendran said.

He also urged the public not to conduct any open burning in view of the haze as they can be fined up to RM500,000 under Section 81(h) of the Local Government Act 1976.

“I have instructed my enforcement teams to conduct patrols and to take action against such people. The public can also call our hotlines to report any open burning cases.”

The hotlines are 04-263 7637 / 263 7000 or WhatsApp 016-200 4082.

“I am hopeful that hazy conditions won’t last long as the country will be transitioning into the wet monsoon season starting Sept 19, according to the Malaysian Meteorological Department,” he added.

Some 50 people took part in cleaning up the beach during the two-hour event organised by France-based sportswear chain Decathlon, which has an outlet in Gurney Paragon.

About 10 of them came with paddleboards to clean up the sea while others scoured the beach for rubbish, mostly mineral water bottles and plastic bags.

It has been estimated that 71 million people from 197 countries and territories took part in World Cleanup Day yesterday.

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