KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 — Banning plastic straws will affect people with physical disabilities as reusable alternatives are not safe for them, a spinal cord injury association has said.
The Malaysian Spinal Cord Injury Advocacy Association said plastic straws were an accessible tool for some people with physical disabilities — like those with spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, or hand amputations — to drink or consume liquids like soup.
“Even though there are suggested alternatives to plastic straws like metal straws, composites and the like, there are other side effects like the risks of choking, injury, high costs, cannot be easily positioned, and not safe for hot food or drink,” the Malaysian Spinal Cord Injury Advocacy Association said in a statement yesterday.
The Star quoted Thursday Federal Territories Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Adnan Mohd Ikhsan as saying that plastic straws will be banned in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, and Labuan from January 1 next year.
He reportedly said business owners risked termination of their business licences, fines or even imprisonment if they are found to be using plastic straws next year.
The Malaysian Spinal Cord Injury Advocacy Association said in certain conditions, it was difficult to position metal straws compared to soft and flexible plastic straws.
Composite straws, on the other hand, were not suitable for hot drinks and cannot be used by disabled people with allergies.
“We think an important and thorough consideration of the ban on plastic straws at certain public premises is necessary, especially for the OKU (people with disabilities) community,” said the Malaysian Spinal Cord Injury Advocacy Association.
“Exceptions for the OKU who need to use plastic straws must be clear and not burdensome.”
Critics have slammed the global ban on plastic straws as bad science, as supposedly more environmentally-friendly alternatives pose just as much harm.