Johor, Perak to ban polystyrene and plastic bags

19 April 2016

Perak and Johor, which are moving towards a ban on polystyrene containers, are encouraging people to use tiffin carriers or other biodegradable containers.

The Perak government has declared a total ban on the usage of polystyrene containers and plastic bags from June next year.

Residents here will have to use biodegradable containers or their own shopping bags then.

Perak Environment Committee chairman Datuk Dr Muhammad Amin Zakaria (BN-Batu Kurau) said the ban would be enforced in stages starting with state government buildings this June, citing that cafeterias there would have to use biodegradable containers every Friday.

"In the second stage, the ban will be extended from weekly to daily, starting January 2017.

"The third stage will take place during the same period at the premises of all local governments in the state.

"Finally, the fourth stage will start in June 2017 when the usage of polystyrene and plastic bags will be banned throughout the state, especially in supermarkets, hypermarkets and sundry stores," he said at a press conference yesterday.

Muhammad Amin said the ban would be enforced by all local authorities in every district.

"Although the move may seem drastic, this is an issue that the state has been contemplating for a while now. We are indeed serious in eliminating polystyrene and plastic waste, so we decided to implement the ban in stages so that the people are given time to get used to the idea of using their own containers and shopping bags," he said.

Muhammad Amin said the state would work with the Department of Environment to build more e-waste collection centres so that the waste could be handled in a safe manner.

In Iskandar Puteri, state Health and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said there would be an announcement on the ban by the end of the year.

For now, consumers in Johor should start bringing their own tiffin carriers or food containers for takeaways.

He said the state authorities were conducting a study before banning the use of plastic and polystyrene containers, acknowledging that this was a delicate issue.

Ayub said plastic and polystyrene containers had been clogging up drains and rivers and even becoming mosquito-breeding grounds.

Speaking to reporters, Ayub said that 80 per cent of the 160 tonnes of the rubbish collected yearly in Sungai Skudai, one of the dirtiest rivers in Johor, was made up of polystyrene and plastic.

He also cautioned that the price of takeaway food should not increase once the ban was enforced.

"Customers may not be happy if they are charged an extra 50 sen for taking away food in biodegradable containers."

Ayub said the state government wanted to encourage food operators to gradually switch to biodegradable containers.

Both Penang and Malacca have banned the use of polystyrene containers in their states.


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