Perspective: 20-sen charge not deterring the public from using plastic bags.

Perspective: 20-sen charge not deterring the public from using plastic bags.

It is quite apparent that the move to charge shoppers 20-sen for each plastic bag has not done much to educate the public on the nation’s efforts to eliminate single-use plastics.Statistics show plastic waste continues to dominate landfills in various parts of the country. In Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, for example, some 101,949 tonnes of plastic waste ended up in landfills in 2021. It comprised 13 percent of the 772,349 tonnes of garbage generated by the two federal territories.Last year, plastic waste in Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya accounted for 210,966 tonnes of the total 796,795 tonnes of garbage produced.

The fact that consumers are overly reliant on plastics is the primary reason they are willing to pay the 20-sen charge imposed by stores on each plastic bag rather than bringing their own recyclable bags.This is evident in Selangor, which was one of the first few states to charge customers for the use of plastic bags in 2017, when the government launched campaigns and implemented policies to discourage the use of single-use plastics.Selangor collected a comparatively large sum of RM6.6 million from the payment imposed on plastic bags in 2020, and the amount increased to RM8.5 million in 2021.

The collection collected RM4.8 million in the first six months of last year.With shoppers willing to pay the 20-sen fee, the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment, and Climate Change faces an uphill struggle in meeting its goal of eradicating plastic bag use by 2025.Last month, its minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said the government is targeting zero use of plastic bags at all premises and sectors of trade and commerce in the country by 2025.A recent random survey of sundry shops, food outlets and other business premises by Bernama found that when it came to the sale and packaging of food items, the use of light, durable and cheap plastic bags was the choice of traders and consumers.

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