Survey shows majority support 'no single-use plastic' campaign

Phee Boon Poh speaks to the press regarding the single-use plastic ban at Komtar, George Town February 14, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Phee Boon Poh speaks to the press regarding the single-use plastic ban at Komtar, George Town February 14, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Feb 14 — A survey of 1,948 consumers have revealed that 76 per cent are supportive of the state government’s “no single-use plastic” campaign, the Penang Green Council (PGC) revealed today.

The survey also revealed that 60 per cent of the respondents agreed to single-use plastics being prohibited from being given out by businesses.

PGC vice chairman Phee Boon Poh said the respondents agreed that a “reward and penalty system” be implemented to encourage consumers to bring their own containers.

“The survey also showed that about half of the respondents dispose of these single-use items after usage, 29.5 per cent sent it for recycling and 19.6 per cent will reuse these items,” he said in a press conference in Komtar today.

Despite the support for the ban on single-use plastics, Phee said the state will still continue to conduct stakeholder engagements throughout March and for six months from April.

“We will have a minimum of eight stakeholder engagement sessions,” he said.

Phee said the state will not enforce its “no single-use plastic” ban for now.

He said the state preferred to use the “love” approach by encouraging the people to take ownership and voluntarily stop using single-use plastic out of love for the environment and the future generation.

“What’s important now is to get the remaining 24 per cent to support this campaign, so we will continue to raise awareness on this,” he said.

The same survey on 231 food and beverage business operators also showed that more than 50 per cent are supportive of the ban on single-use plastics.

PGC research assistant Melawani Othman said 11.3 per cent were opposed to the ban while 29 per cent were indecisive.

She said 78.6 per cent of the consumer respondents said hygiene was not the main reason they use single-use plastic items.

“A majority of the consumers, 65.1 per cent, said they use single-use items such as cups and plates because these items were provided at restaurants and eateries,” she said.

A total 34.75 per cent used single-use items because of its easy availability, 21.41 per cent due to hygiene factors while 13.91 per cent due to price affordability factor.

Penang is the first state to introduce a No Free Plastic Bag campaign back in 2009 and a ban on polystyrene in 2012.

Melawani said both these campaigns were successful after extensive awareness campaigns.

Malaysians use up about 31 million plastic straws every day which is enough to fill up eight school buses per day, 57 per week and 2,920 per year.

Phee urged all eateries not to serve drinks with plastic straws by default and to only make it available upon request for those who need it such as young children, the sick and elderly.

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