No more plastics and polystyrene, please

Stephen Ng

Modified 12 May 2017, 3:04 am

COMMENT | As a nation, we are suffocating from plastics and polystyrene.

The overuse of plastics and polystyrene packaging materials is drowning us if we continue to ignore the pollution it causes to our environment.

Malaysians, do something about it! As we know, plastics and polystyrene foam can remain in our environment many years after they have been disposed of. The  materials cannot disintegrate easily.

Selangor state exco member for Tourism, Environment, Green Technology and Consumer Affairs, Elizabeth Wong hit the nail on the head when she said that traders can be fined and their licences revoked, if they remain defiant on the ‘no free plastic bags’ bylaw.

Such a rule should have been implemented 20 years ago. It is an unpopular policy, but it is about time that some strict bylaws are enforced in Selangor with the aim of reducing the use of plastics and polystyrene packaging.

The fact that the ‘no free plastic bags’ ruling has already started about seven years ago, that should be enough time for any society to learn about caring for their environment. I am surprised that there are still some defiant people in our midstwho are not taking the environment seriously.

Earlier, I wrote an article urging the government to ban polystyrene boxes as they are thrown all over the places. These boxes will accumulate rain water and become good breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Shame on us

In fact, much to our shame, some of our local institutions of higher learning have already started implementing the ‘no polystyrene’ and ‘no plastics’ policy on campuses much earlier.

Why is it that our local population is still so unrelenting when it comes to cutting down on the use of plastics and polystyrene?

If the university undergraduates can do it, why can’t we? We should be ashamed of ourselves if we leave behind a heavily polluted environment for our future generations of Malaysians.

It is for the sake of our younger generation that we should at least take good care for our environment. Currently, we are generating 23,000 tonnes of wastes every year.

If nothing is done to reduce our wastes, especially polystyrene and plastics materials, this amount will increase to 30,000 tonnes by 2020. As it is, many of our rivers are declared ‘dead’. Where once there were living organisms and fish in these rivers, today there is hardly any living thing in these rivers.

This is because a significant amount of these wastes generated are thrown into the rivers. It takes more efforts to clean up the environment than to pollute it.

Overwhelmed, our politicians would then be happy to talk about putting incinerators in place to treat the solid wastes. Do you see where we are heading to?

We are creating a problem for ourselves, only to be solved by spending billons of ringgit on expensive technology to treat the wastes when we could have solved it with proper policy in place to reduce the use of harmful packaging materials.

The problem here in Malaysia is that we put politics above everything else. Just because the policy comes from a Pakatan Harapan state government that does not mean that the Housing and Local Government Ministry should not implement the same policy in other states as well...

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