PETALING JAYA: Selangor picked Saturday as its “No Plastic Bag Day” to maximise the campaign’s impact, said Tourism, Consumer Affairs and Environment executive councillor Elizabeth Wong.
She said hypermarkets, supermarkets and specialist retail outlets like pharmacies recorded higher shopping traffic during weekends.
“Saturday will be a very effective day to get the message across to a wider crowd. For the first three months, we hope to achieve a substantial educational effect on consumers in changing their habits.
“Six months later, we will consider making it a licensing condition for retailers, in strengthening the campaign,” she said yesterday.
Wong clarified that the campaign would officially start on Jan 9, and not last Saturday, which was reported to have inconvenienced shoppers who were caught unawares.
She said that retailers who began the campaign a week earlier did it on their own accord. The campaign was announced on Dec 19.
Penang, the first state to implement “No Plastic Bag Day” last July, has extended the once-a-week campaign to three times a week, and announced that from this year, it would not renew the licence of businesses that did not support the state’s plastic bag reduction policy.
Data provided by 45 participating hypermarkets and supermarkets showed that plastic bag consumption has dropped by more than a million since the campaign started.
Twelve supermarkets under the jurisdiction of the Sibu Municipal Council also declared Monday as plastic-free and has charged 20 sen for every bag from Nov 16, in a bid to lengthen the lifespan of its landfill.
However, the Malaysian Plastic Manufacturers Association cautioned that such campaigns may not achieve the intended environmental benefits.
Its chairman Lim Kok Boon predicted that the states would eventually face an increase in the number of plastic garbage bags used, which would be an additional cost to the public.
He said plastic bags that ended up as a public nuisance were those without reuse value, like the small bags used for take-away food and small items.
The association has promoted 3R – a campaign to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic bags – but retailers were reluctant to print the recycling logo on the bags as they found it advantageous to their public image to promote the state-sponsored “No Plastic Bag Day” campaign.