Why not ban plastic bags in Selangor? green groups ask

Nabihah Hamid

A plastic waste dump in China. The affects of decomposing plastic lasts hundreds of year. – EPA pic, February 21, 2018.

ENVIRONMENTAL activists have suggested that the Selangor government bans plastic bags instead of charging consumers 20 sen. 

EcoKnights president Yasmin Ras said the authorities should take more effective measures to prevent plastic bags from destroying the environment. 

“In the case of plastic bags, education is very important. Our country is actually very lax on (regulating) its use. 

“But, in reality we need to follow trends set by countries like the United States, where almost half the country has banned its use. Plastic bags are even banned in India (New Delhi). 

“It harms the environment. There are a slot of studies that show the effects of plastic bags on the environment and nature,” she told The Malaysian Insight. 

Yasmin also condemned Selangor Barisan Nasional for pledging to do away with the plastic bag fee if it won the state from Pakatan Harapan. 

“We need politicians who are going to tell us what is their green agenda. We do not want politicians to increase the use of plastic bags.”

According to the Selangor state government committee’s meeting minutes on “Plastic and polystyrene free policy” in February 2017, the 20 sen charge was found to be not effective. 

The committee found that people were under the impression that merchants profited from the 20 sen charge. 

Selangor government also does not have the power to compel traders to channel the 20 sen towards an environmental fund.  

The committee called for an audit of these businesses, and a state-wide key performance index (KPI) be formulated on the use of plastic bags and polystyrene. 

Yasmin urged the state government to make public any KPI report detailing the measures and finances involving the 20 sen charged to people.

Environmental NGO Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) activist Meor Razak Meor Abdul Rahman suggested the state government to enforce replacing plastic bags with recyclable bags. 

“We have to emulate foreign countries that have long used recyclable bags. We need to do research, but I feel Malaysia has no problem in manufacturing recyclable bags. 

“Whether it’s the federal government or the state, how long are they going to charge 20 sen? Traders can instead be encouraged to use recycle-able containers,” he said. 

Activist Amlir Ayat said public awareness on environmental issues is shallow and the government needed to improve it. 

“The 20 sen charge is not as extreme, as the effects of decomposing plastic last hundreds of years. But, the bigger problem is people need to be more educated about this. 

“Malaysians litter everywhere, not just plastic bags. So, we need to look into this and resolve it.”

BN information chief Dr Satim Diman had said the BN manifesto listed, among other things, the return of free plastic bags for shoppers in the Pakatan Harapan-led state.

State BN chairman Noh Omar seconded the call, saying the 20 sen charged per plastic bag was a burden to the people.

Selangor executive councillor Elizabeth Wong said the people would not swayed by BN’s promise to reverse the rule.

Federal opposition lawmakers have also slammed the ruling coalition’s promise to Selangor folk as ridiculous and a step backwards.

Currently, the opposition-controlled states of Selangor and Penang, as well as the BN-led Malacca, Johor, and the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya, enforce the no-plastic-bag rule. – February 21, 2018.

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