Kuala Lumpur has joined other states namely Selangor, Penang, Perak, Johor and Malacca, to ban the usage of biodegradable containers, especially polystyrene effective January 1, 2017. This does not augur well for the Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association (MPMA) who has strongly objected to such a move as it will affect members of the industry.
During a forum on plastics jointly organised by Ipoh City Watch (ICW), MPMA (Perak Branch), Perak SWCorp, Ipoh City Council and Koperasi Alam Hijau Perak Berhad (KOHIJAU) held at a local hotel in Ipoh, Dato’ Rusnah Kassim who officiated the forum, has thrown a challenge to MPMA to prove two things; how plastics can be reduced from going to the landfills, illegal dumpsites and beaches and what solution MPMA can offer to help reduce the impact of plastics on our health and environment. At the moment, the Perak government stood firm on its decision to ban the use of polystyrene and plastic bags effective June 1, 2017.
As one of the four panelists during the forum entitled ‘The Impact of Plastics on the Sustainability of Environment: Should Plastics be banned?’ attended by about 200 participants, I put forward ICW’s points that we support the government’s move in banning the use of polystyrene and plastic bags. I made my points clear that by 2020, if nothing is done by us, Perak will generate 3 billion tonnes of garbage of which 450,000 tonnes or about 15% of the total garbage, come from plastics. As plastics take a few hundred years to degrade, it will have an impact on our environment. Plastics are also made from petroleum which is a non-renewable source of energy.
The general perception of the public is that chemicals used to make plastics can leach into the food after a prolonged used at certain temperatures although there is no concrete evidence to support this at the moment. Moreover, plastics such as polystyrene and plastic bags can be recycled as claimed. However, there is a lack of interest by the public to collect such items as recyclables due to its low resale value.
At the end of the forum, all four panelists concluded that MPMA (Perak Branch) should be given a chance to prove itself by finding a solution to the challenge thrown by Dato’ Rusnah Kassim.
Thus moving forward, ICW, using its recycling unit KOHIJAU has set up the Perak Action Team for a Sustainable Environment (PATSE) in collaboration with MPMA (Perak Branch), Perak SWCorp and Rukun Tetangga Jelapang. The main objective is to come out with action plans which will help educate, engage and excite the people to involve and embrace 3R (Reuse, Reduce & Recycle).
The team will go on a statewide campaign beginning with Kinta District. PATSE will also hold talks in schools and with any organisation keen to participate in the programme.
For further information, kindly visit www.ipohcitywatch.org or Whatsapp 013 533 0989.
Dr Richard Ng
Ipoh City Watch (ICW)