No plastic rule may cost jobs

Posted on November 12, 2010. Filed under: Waste |

By ANN TAN
anntan@thestar.com.my

GEORGE TOWN: Some 1,580 people may eventually lose their jobs as a result of the expansion of the no plastic bag ruling in Penang from Jan 1.

Malaysian Plastic Manufac­turers Association northern branch chairman Willy Tan said he expected those employed in the plastic bag manufacturing line by its members to lose their jobs.

“When consumers are not using our plastic bags every day next year, these jobs will vanish,” Tan said during a dialogue between 12 association representatives and Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng at the latter’s office in Komtar yesterday.

Merit Industries Sdn Bhd director E.E. Lim, whose company is a major plastic bag producer in Kamunting, said her sales to three hypermarkets in Penang had dropped from six million bags monthly to only three million.

“What are we going to eat when Penangites are no longer using plastic bags? The 20 sen penalty may be a small amount but it is not cheap to some people,” she said, referring to the amount shoppers had to pay for a plastic bag.

Association president Lim Kok Boon said the ruling would only burden the poor as they would have to pay 40 sen for each garbage bag to discard their rubbish.

“A shopping bag costs four sen each and they used to get it for free from hypermarkets and supermarkets. In the absence of plastic carrier bags, consumers will have to pay for bin liners and this will increase the usage of garbage bags.

“A study in Ireland, the first country to stop giving out free plastic bags, found a 90% drop in plastic bag usage in one month but the usage of garbage bags increased by 400% instead,” he said.

Kok Boon said plastic shopping bags were also more convenient for consumers to tie up their garbage.

Guan Eng asked the association for a report on the possible impact of the ruling to the industry, adding that Penang wanted to know the amount of reduction in revenue and job losses.

“We are not banning plastic bags but we want Penangites to reduce their usage. This is a policy we must undertake and I don’t deny it’ll be a political cost to us,” he said, adding that consumers would take as many shopping bags as they pleased when they were free but being charged for it would make them think of the costs involved.

All hypermarkets, supermarkets, departmental stores, pharmacies, fast food restaurants, nasi kandar outlets and convenience stores, including chain stores and those at petrol kiosks, in Penang will have to adhere to the ruling daily from Jan 1 next year.

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