Masidi: Make environ-friendly polystyrene packs

Posted on October 20, 2010. Filed under: Laws and Regulations, Waste |

-Daily Express-

Kota Kinabalu: Manufacturers have been urged to seriously look into ways to produce environment-friendly polystyrene packs that will not affect the ozone layer when these packs are burnt as waste.

Making the call, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said there is a need for them to take holistic views on the whole issue in terms of making the packs safe and healthy for end users.

“Business-wise, it is economic sense for the manufacturers to continue producing the polystyrene packs but by the same token, I think they also need to look into a more responsible way to make the substance safe for the public’s health.

“This is because even plastic bags can be made into bio-degradable products and I am sure even a ‘tapau’ polystyrene pack can be produced in the same way. Actually it is just an issue of cost (of producing environmentally safe polystyrene packs),” he said.

Masidi said this in a press conference after launching a ‘Ozone Layer Protection: Management and High level of Compliance’ clean air campaign in conjunction with the commemoration of International Ozone Day 2010 here Tuesday.

The Department of Environment (DOE) organised the event that provided a one-day free inspection of vehicle exhaust pipes and air-conditioning to check on whether the owners use the right type of cooling gas.

Masidi was commenting on whether his ministry would consider enacting a law that regulates the use of polystyrene food packs in Sabah.

Sabah director, Abdul Razak Hj. Abdul Manap was also present.

“Again I hope everybody including the stakeholders, end-users and manufacturers would continue to have a serious view on producing and using only environmentally safe products. And perhaps, it is a high time for us to produce and use such products in a healthy way.

Actually, it is a simpleÉwhether you want our future generations to be healthy or not,” Masidi said.

Nonetheless, he said, ultimately, the most effective way to kick the habit of using the polystyrene packs is to educate the people especially the young at schools in the hopes that they would tell their parents not to pack their food in polystyrene-based packs.

“I think we need to educate the public at large because for rural residents, it is the most convenient way to pack their food using polystyrene packs and also the people do not realise the danger that comes with it,” Masidi said.

On the current ‘No Plastic Bags on Monday’ campaign, he said, the public’s response has been good.

“Actually if we realise the benefit of not using plastic bags, I believe we do not need to have laws or regulations enacted to enforce this because it would depend on us, what we want to leave for our future generations.

“If we want our future generations to be healthy, then I reckon automatically, we will make sure our daily habits that harm the environment including use of plastic bags is controlled in a nice way.

“TrueÉit is difficult to kick the habit that has been a practice all your lives. But I do hope that whatever the excuses, we can change the habit slowly to healthy ones. Even almost all European countries are not using plastic now and they are turning to papers that are easily degradable.

I think we should do the same thing here,” Masidi said.

Earlier, he said public must have acknowledge that Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) like black smoke from vehicles, air-conditioning used in cars and inside homes, Halon gas in lighters and polystyrene-based packs that emit gases are harmful to the ozone layer.

Presently, he said there is no law that regulates production of ODS to care for public health.

He said end users also need to make sure the products they buy and use are ozone-friendly and do not contain CFC (Chlorofluorocarbon) gas that can deplete the ozone layer.

Last year, Masidi said Malaysia announced that the nation has successfully reduced the use of CFC by 181 per cent above the average use from 1995 to 1997.

He added that such achievement was by far above the target compliance of 100 per cent reduction set on Jan 1 this year.

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