PETALING JAYA: The Selangor government will press on with its “No Plastic Bag Day” campaign before implementing other programmes to discourage the use of plastic bags.
State executive councillor Elizabeth Wong told FMT yesterday that the current focus was on ensuring the success of the campaign launched on Jan 1.
“We would first recommend the reduction of plastic bags and encourage people to take along their own bags when they go shopping,” she said. “We suggest that shoppers opt for multi-use bags or recycle bags before moving on to biodegradable bags.”
Wong was commenting on environmental activist Gurmit Singh’s call on the Selangor government to make retailers charge RM1 for a plastic bag instead of the current 20 sen.
Gurmit, who chairs the Centre for Environment, Technology and Development Malaysia (Cetdem), said plastic bags should cost more so that shoppers would be deterred from using them.
“Shoppers are still using plastic bags because they are cheap,” he said. “Raising the price to RM1 might stop them from purchasing the bags.”
He also suggested the use of paper bags made from plantation wood, which are more biodegradable.
The “No Plastic Bag Day” campaign was extended from Saturdays to every day with the start of the new year.
Wong said the 20-sen charge was the minimum set by the Selangor government and retailers could charge more if they wanted to.
She welcomed a suggestion made by another environmentalist, Andrew Sebastian, who said plastic bags should be phased out gradually.
“As for Sebastian’s suggestion, we appreciate it,” she said. “However, let us work together to make this current campaign a success first because the best deterrence is public awareness.”
Sebastian said the government should, after about six months, look into getting rid of plastic bags for good.
He also said more needed to be done to educate the public on the use of recyclable bags.
“Once the public is educated, the government should not allow the sale of plastic bags,” he added. -FMT