“No Plastic Mondays” a success

“No Plastic Mondays” have reduced plastic bag consumption by more than 580,000 plastic bags over 13 Days.

Based on the data provided by 11 super/hypermarkets and other retailers, starting from 6 July until 30 Sept 2009, Penangnites have saved about 580,000 plastic bags on 13 “No Plastic Mondays”. Last year alone, the 6 major groups of super/ hypermarkets in Penang distributed as much as 25.2 million pieces of plastics bags or 2.1 million pieces monthly. We have become the first state in Malaysia that had cut down the usage of plastic bags through such voluntarily program.

We have also collected RM 8783 from the charges of 20 cents per bags. These charges have been donated to the Partners Against Poverty (PAP) fund to assist in eradicating hard-core poverty in Penang. Penang became the first state in Malaysia to ensure that every family receives at least RM500 per month. The hard-core poor is defined as families receiving monthly income of less that RM 430.

Based on the feedback of the participants, the general responses from the public on “No Plastic Monday” has been encouraging. All Penangites especially the participating supermarkets should be proud of ourselves that we are making Penang a green state together. There are 42 other “No Plastic ”countries or cities like Penang.

By reducing plastic litter along roadsides, we help to reduce clogged waterways that cause contagious diseases and flooding.

Nevertheless, we are very concerned about a small number of people that had not been informed about this green message. Cashiers have been rudely shouted at for refusing to give free plastic bags, while some even facing the loss of trolleys and shopping baskets which should not happen in this civilised and caring society.

In order to create public awareness, the State government has printed posters and flyers in bulk; they have been distributed in supermarkets, hypermarkets. We have also put up banners for publicity all over the state. The owners of LED screens, advertising TV companies and cinemas have expressed their support on this program. This enables us to utilise the modern digital tools to convey our green message.

We wish to thank the many MNCs such as ESTEC and B.Braun and local companies for enhancing this “Green” effort. For instance, ESTEC and B.Braun has taken 6000 “No Plastic Day” brochures to be distributed to their employees at all levels thus making the efforts of Penang State Government much more effective in terms of reaching out to the masses. I am also very impressed by the support given by Federation of Malaysia Manufacturers (FMM) Penang as they are also distributing flyers to almost 300 members throughout the Northern region.

Penang generates about 1,500 – 1,600 tons per day, which means that every Penangite generates about 1 kg per person per day. Our two local councils and LA21 have also been working very hard to promote “No Plastic Bags day” and the importance of 3Rs- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle to the school children and Residential Associations.

We hope to hear from Penangnites after this initial mutual success whether we should extend “No Plastic Mondays” to more days a week.

To realise Penang’s vision of transforming itself into an international city we must also become a Green State that is a location of choice for investors, a destination of choice for tourists and a habitat of choice for those who desire sustainable living.

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