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Thursday, May 11, 2017

No more plastics and polystyrene, please

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. They 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.
Environment-friendly policies
More environment-friendly policies should, in fact, be implemented nationwide, not only in Selangor and Penang.
Separation of wastes should also be done in the homes, a policy which has always been talked about but never fully enforced. For example, food wastes can be turned into compost using the bokashi composting method, but most people prefer to easy way to throw them into the rubbish bin.
Recyclable plastics and paper should be placed in separate bins so that the garbage collectors can easily channel these stuff for recycling. Every household should have food containers that they can use when they pack their food, instead of using the polystyrene containers.
Shopping malls, schools and other public places should have their recycling policies in place. I am also surprised that major food chains in the country do not have proper recycling process for their wastes. Everything is dumped into the same bin.
These are the biggest waste generators and if they as corporate citizens do not lead the way, who would do it?
From the way I look at it, it is sad that this country is not only going down the path of the kleptocrats - even the environment is suffering from different sorts of pollution!

Do something now before it is too late! You cannot expect the kleptocrats to care for the environment.

STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008.- Mkini

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