Forum on Plastics

A public forum titled, “The Impact of Plastics on the Sustainability of Environment: Should Plastics be Banned?” jointly organised by Ipoh City Watch (ICW) and Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association (MPMA) was held on Tuesday, June 21 at WEIL Hotel, Ipoh.

The Perak state government has announced that plastics, especially polystyrenes will be banned statewide effective June 1, 2017. Ipoh City Council was among the first local council to respond by barring plastics from its canteen every Friday beginning June 1, 2016.

The objective of the forum was for the public to listen to the differing views on the subject matter and to make their concerns known.

The panellists were Associate Professor Dr Richard Ng, President of ICW, Fatimah Ahmad, Director of Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Corporation (SWCorp) Perak, Dato’ Lim Kok Boon, President of MPMA and Ipoh City Council’s City Planning Director, Zulqarnain Mohammad.

The event was officiated by the State Executive Councillor for Women, Family and Community Welfare Development, Housing and Local Government, Dato’ Hajah Rusnah binti Kassim.

Lim insisted that any containers or packages made out of plastic, paper or any other materials would not pollute the environment if they were used for their intended purposes. However, the items would become an eyesore when they are being disposed indiscriminately.

According to Lim, MPMA has always been advocating the 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle) mantra as most plastics can be recycled. It is for this reason that plastics need to be separated from mainstream waste so that they can be recycled into other useful products.

“The introduction of the waste separation source (SAS) initiative by SWCorp calls for the public to separate their recyclables from non-recyclables so as to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills. Thus, when handled responsibly, plastics do not cause waste management issues, just like other recyclables,” Lim stressed.

“I’ll challenge them to come up with a convincing proposal to reduce the usage of plastic bags without imposing a levy. If the proposal is logical and acceptable, we can reconsider the decision,” said Dato’ Rusnah.

Fatimah of SWCorp had this to say; “Let’s start with the first R, which is “reduce” followed by “reuse” and then “recycle”. By reducing your consumption, you’ll also reduce the amount of waste you produce. The three Rs are really the best waste management with “reduce” being the most important strategy.”

According to Zulqarnain, plastic chemicals from food packs leech into food and end up in our bodies causing potential health problems. Thus the usage of plastics should be treated with caution.

“I encourage the public to use glass or stainless-steel bottles, reusable or biodegradable bags. Stop using plastic cutleries and start recycling whatever and whenever you can,” he posited.

Dr Richard Ng concurred with the action of the state government and Ipoh City Council. “We at ICW support the Perak government’s and Ipoh City Council’s decision to ban plastic bags and polystyrene containers although the majority prefer to take a middle path. This is to give the plastic industry a chance to come up with a proposal on how they can help recycle and reduce polystyrene and plastic bags from going into landfills and the oceans.”


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