Yoursay: Plastic bag ban a good start, but more should be done

Modified 29 May 2018, 3:03 am

YOURSAY | Banning plastic bags is merely treating the symptom.

Zuraida targets nationwide plastic bag ban within a year

Nagu: Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin, on this plastic point I disagree with you.

The urgency required for our environment is yesterday, not one year from now. Kindly do not wait for a year. Let's target a nationwide ban by Jan 1, 2019, East and West Malaysia included.

Our abuse of the environment has gone on unchecked for way too long. If you make it a priority, it will happen. Let's do it now.

Enough: I live in Perak where there is no such ban, but once I go to Selangor, I see the 'No Plastic Bag' ruling, which I think is very good.

We have to seriously look into this, as even in Kenya, it is a total ban nationwide – Kenyans producing, selling or even using plastic bags will risk imprisonment of up to four years or fines when the world’s toughest law aimed at reducing plastic pollution came into effect.

Anonymous#007: I applaud the ban on petroleum-based bags and containers. However, I am curious why there is no mention of the rationale for the ban.

I also find it hypocritical to make consumers pay 20 sen for a bag, but the Lynas rare earths plant is given a tax break to leave dangerous and toxic pollutants in our country and make a handsome profit out of that.

I believe the Umno/BN government - and Lynas shareholders and management - had assured the rakyat that the toxic waste would be returned to Australia. Pakatan Harapan needs to follow up on this urgently.

On another note, perhaps a better option would be to impose a tax at the source (i.e. the manufacturer) to make it more expensive to produce and supply products that we have identified as being harmful to the environment.

Those monies can be used to build infrastructure to dispose of those harmful products properly.

Anonymous_700ff2ab: I believe many are aware of the negative impact of plastic but don't really bother at all.

Yes, go to the source such as factories and also ban imports. Introduce alternatives such as paper bags at low prices. Streets vendors can't charge extra and still give plastic bags.

And we must also help those who are already in the plastic bag business to adapt.

Legit: Don't just ban plastic bags without a feasible and practical alternative. In some countries like the US, grocery stores and supermarkets give paper bags which is free.

Why doesn't the government encourage the current plastic bag/polystyrene bag manufacturers to convert to alternative biodegradable packaging products by giving them some form of incentives?

The Harapan government should think through its measures carefully, and not just simply bulldoze through whatever it thinks is right just because it is good for the environment. Have some creativity and imagination, please.

Kiara Trail: Banning plastic bags is merely treating the symptom. Educating the consumers is a priority.

There is no point banning them when we ultimately still do not know how to recycle everything else. When plastic bags have to be bought, it does not mean these bags do not pollute.

We need to educate through various media on conserving the environment by recycling and reducing waste. Reusing these bags for rubbish is one way to reduce waste. Plastic bags are not the only pollutant.

Ketil Sd: Personally, I hate the no-free-plastic-bag policy. It's very inconvenient to consumers. The savings go to big supermarkets. This policy punishes the poor.

More often than not, it is the poor who dish out 20 sen for the bag. Policymakers should go down to store level to observe the daily life of ordinary people.

I really don't see how stopping retailers from providing free plastic bags will help the environment.

People just don't throw away the plastic bags after they have used them to bring back the grocery. They keep the bags for bagging garbage. Without the plastic bags from supermarkets, people still need plastic bags to bag their garbage.

So they buy garbage bags. The same amount of plastic goes to the landfill. Only this time, the folks paid for the plastic and the supermarkets saved the expense.

A more sensible alternative is to ban plastic altogether and force the industry to use biodegradable bags. With it, the economies of scale will force down the price of biodegradable bags.

Odin Tajué: The fastest, most efficacious solution to the problem is to ban the import of the raw materials, and to not renew the licences of the present plastic bag manufacturers.

You then explain (or ‘educate’, if you wish) the populace on all the things that adversely affect the environment and the urgent need for environmental conservation.

As far back as some 15 years ago, there was a report of a mass of discarded plastic products as large as Texas floating in the Pacific Ocean alone. We are talking about 268,820 square miles or 696,241 square kilometres.

You also have direct, immediate health problems where food and drinks are packed in plastic containers and bags. Hot, cooked food especially packed in that manner, is not at all good for our well-being.

It is safe to assume that these products are not food-grade and most likely contain bisphenol A (BPA). Exposure to BPA is a concern because of possible health effects of the chemicals on the brain, behaviour, and prostate gland of foetuses, infants and children.

Additional research suggests a possible link between BPA and increased blood pressure.

Hplooi: Targeting the consumer for "nationwide plastic bags ban" is short-sighted, ad hoc, and has minimal impact. An effective plastic waste policy starts by looking at plastic use as a whole.

The biggest culprit is the industry, or more precisely, the packaging industry. For the consumer, instead of instituting plastic bags ban (which in my opinion has minimal impact on global plastic use), the first step should be a nationwide 'separation at source programme' (i.e. for households. shops, industrial premises, etc, to practice separation of waste).

If you have not even started waste separation at the source, instituting a plastic bag ban at supermarkets is "playing to the gallery" and is more correctly "greenwashing".

Formulate simple methodology and start with urban areas, and commercial and industrial premises. Next, you engage with and/or enlarge the recycling industry. Then go after packaging industries.

After all of the aforesaid, only then do we institute a plastic bag ban on consumers.

VijayR: There are lots of inputs and proposals from the commentators. Being a developing nation, which is likely to miss the Vision 2020 goals, it's worthwhile to take it one step at a time.

Don't forget that the nation has approximately 52 Felda-based constituencies. How much do they know about environmental protection?

To me, the Harapan government has started it right by doing the first step in reducing generally used plastic bags. That's the way to go.

Anonymous_1372050461: I am glad Harapan is looking at the problems created by plastic bags.

Certainly, it's more sensible than the proposal by BN Selangor to build plastic bag factories and give bags out for free so as to not burden the consumer.

WilliamWallace: Yes, Zuraida. This is what you call a First World policy. If you love Malaysia, do not litter. Keep the country clean.

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