Penang shelves plan to raise price for plastic bags next year

Phee said the Penang government will not increase the collection price for plastic bags from 20 sen to 50 sen next year as planned. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Phee said the Penang government will not increase the collection price for plastic bags from 20 sen to 50 sen next year as planned. — Picture by Farhan Najib

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GEORGE TOWN, Nov 23 — Shoppers in Penang will be relieved to know they will pay the same price for plastic bags next year.

State executive councillor Phee Boon Poh said the Penang government will not increase the collection price for plastic bags from 20 sen to 50 sen next year as planned.

“The proposal to increase the collection price of 20 sen to 50 sen will not be implemented yet,” the state environment, welfare and caring society committee chairman said today.

Instead, he said the state will follow Putrajaya’s No Free Plastic Bags initiative to reduce usage among the public.

“We are organising workshops in December and January with representatives from all states on implementing the No Free Plastic Bags initiative nationwide,” he said.

Phee said the workshops will also look into the single-use plastics ban that Penang will implement from 2019.

“There is also confusion about how to collect the money for the plastic bags and what to do with the money collected,” he added.

Penang was the first state to implement No Free Plastic Bags in 2009, followed by a ban on polystyrene in 2012.

Under the No Free Plastic Bag initiative, shoppers would be charged for asking for a plastic bag at stores statewide on a fixed day in the week. The policy was extended to daily in 2011.

Shoppers were encouraged to bring their own bags if they didn’t want to pay 20 sen for a new plastic bag.

The monies collected were used to fund the state poverty eradication programme called Agenda Ekonomi Saksama.

Phee said many shoppers in Penang have grown accustomed to paying the 20 sen fee per plastic bag that the charge was no longer an effective deterrent.

“This was why we were looking into increasing the payment collected to 50 sen and the plastics used will have to be thicker, at 40 microns,” he said.

He said single-use plastic bags have a thickness of just 15 microns, adding that these tear easily.

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