Public education to kick off Penang’s ban on single-use plastic next year, says exco

Phee said food and beverage outlet operators will be 'educated' on the importance of cutting out use of single-use plastics to reduce pollution. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Phee said food and beverage outlet operators will be 'educated' on the importance of cutting out use of single-use plastics to reduce pollution. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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GEORGE TOWN, Nov 23 — A ban on all single-use plastics including straws and plastic cups for all eateries in Penang will start next year, but enforcement will begin in the form of education, said state environment, welfare and caring society committee chairman Phee Boon Poh.

He did not specify when the state will begin taking action against offenders but pointed out that the ban will apply to all food-related establishments, including cafes, restaurants, hotels, coffee shops, roadside stalls and hawker complexes.

“We will start with educational enforcement first so we will get these operators to take ownership in stopping the use of single-use plastics,” he said in a press conference at the launch of a single-use plastic ban poster exhibition in Komtar today.

He said holding awareness campaigns alone is not enough, with a need to carry out enforcement through education.

“We want all food and beverage outlet operators to take ownership by voluntarily refusing single-use plastics, this is the only way to get them to comply with the ban,” he said.

He said these operators will be “educated” on the importance of cutting out the use of single-use plastics to reduce pollution.

“We need to change people’s habits and this will take a lot of education for people to adapt to it,” he said.

He said unlike the No Free Plastic Bags initiative introduced in 2009, which affected only those who purchased items at supermarkets, the ban on single-use plastics will affect almost all consumers.

Phee said it will take time for the public to adapt to this ban before the state considers strict enforcement.

He said a survey conducted by the Penang Green Council showed that 75.6 per cent out of 1,948 respondents are supportive of the single-use plastics ban.

“A survey of 231 food and beverage operators found that 59.7 per cent are supportive of the ban,” he said.

Phee said the Penang Island City Council and Seberang Perai Municipal Council have stopped using single-use plastics.

“The state government will also stop using plastic mineral water cups during meetings in Komtar,” he said.

He said all meeting rooms in Level 28, 52 and 53 in Komtar will no longer supply plastic mineral water cups.

“We are preparing 500 stainless steel cups for the meeting rooms,” he said.

He added that the state government has also prepared 1,000 stainless steel thermos water bottles for all government officers and Grade A and Grade B officers in local councils to encourage them to bring their own mugs.

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