‘Say No to Plastic Bags’ campaign yields contradictory results

MIRI: The ‘Say No to Plastic Bags Campaign’ conducted by Miri City Council (MCC) through participating supermarkets has no doubt been successfully implemented and well accepted by the shoppers in the city.

However, the campaign has not helped in reducing the total quantity of plastic bags produced by the participating supermarkets.

According to the statistic issued by the MCC, the total quantity of plastic bags produced by the participating outlets has increased from 1,072,895 pieces in year 2010 to 1,779,406 pieces last year.

As at November this year, the number stood at 873,847 pieces of plastic bags.

In view of that, Miri mayor Lawrence Lai expressed his concern and described the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the council and Curtin University Sarawak (Curtin Sarawak) on ‘The Effectiveness of Say No To Plastic Bags Campaign by MCC’ last Thursday was timely.

Speaking to media during the signing of MoU ceremony, Lai pointed out it is unfair to come to the general conclusion that the campaign implemented by the council has failed in meeting the campaign’s objective as the shoppers did support the campaign by bringing along their own eco-bags.

“There are many reasons which contributed to the volume increased of plastic bags produced by the participating outlets such as the Bruneians.

“Thus, the council needs assistance from the Curtin Sarawak through proper study which will provide accurate information and recommendation to the council.”

At the moment, there are about 13 participating supermarkets for the campaign comprising Boulevard Hypermarket (Boulevard Mall), Boulevard Hypermarket (Imperial Mall), E-mart Supermarket, Sin Liang Supermarket, Servay Hypermarket, Servay Morsjaya, Servay Taman Tunku, Giant Supermarket Bintang Mega Mall, Ng Sian Hap Supermarket, Giant Permymall, GK Supermarket and Ta Kiong Supermarket.

He said three supermarkets had withdrawn from the campaign.

The outlets were Nam Leong (withdrawn in 2011), Pick & Save (withdrawn in February 2012) and Hot Cross Bun (withdrawn in June 2012).

However, for Hot Cross Bun, he said the bakery currently is in the process of re-applying to join the campaign.

In addition, he said the council had received numerous complaints from the public that there were non-participating shopping outlets that had taken advantage of the campaign.

These non-participating outlets had been charging plastic bags at RM0.20 each.

He explained the charges were actually only imposed on those shoppers who shopped at any participating outlets.

The collection of the charges would then be channelled for charity purpose.

Fifty per cent of the collection would be channelled to charity organisations or Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO’s) accordingly to the choice of the individual participating outlet while another half would be contributed to the council’s Green Culture Fund (GCF).

On the GCF, the council received a total of RM372,614 from the campaign in 2010 until this month.

In 2010, the council received RM107,289 followed by RM177,940 and RM87,384 (as at Nov). From the fund, the council spent RM35,200 on printing of 22,000 pieces of eco-bags, RM2,721 on Lunch Paper Box for Say No to Styrofoam during the Miri City Day and RM30,000 to the Curtin Sarawak’s research team.

The objectives of the campaign are to create awareness among the public on the dangers of expansive use of plastic, to reduce or minimise the plastic usage starting from shopping complexes by using recyclable shopping bags and to encourage the public from various levels to participate in environmental programme.

Furthermore, the campaign is derived from community ideas and efforts for the benefits of the present and future generation.

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