State slams ‘green’ plastics

Posted on January 26, 2011. Filed under: Waste |

-The Star-  BUTTERWORTH: The state government believes the use of biodegradable plastic bags is not a better option to counter the state’s policy of reducing the use of plastic bags to protect the environment.State Local Government and Traffic Management Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the state disagreed with plastic manufacturers, which claimed biodegradable plastics were more environmental friendly.

“We believe the biodegradable plastic bags may be more harmful to the environment because the particular plastic material would be broken down into smaller microscopic particles. And, when these toxic particles enter our rivers and to the sea, it will cause more harm to the fish and other marine life that consume them,” he said after opening the Green School Awards 2011 competition at Dewan Datuk Haji Ahmad Badawi here yesterday.

Following the state government’s no free plastic bags policy, he said, several plastic manufacturers have introduced oxo-biodegradable plastic bags in the market to replace the non-biodegradable ones.

According to Canada’s EPI Environmental Technologies Inc, which developed the oxo-biodegradable technology, oxo-biodegradable plastic bags, usually underwent chemical degradation by oxidation before being further biodegraded and converted into carbon dioxide, water and biomass by microorganisms.

It said degradable plastics using EPI’s pro-prietary Totally Degradable Plastic Additives (TDPA) technology, could degrade within a few months to two to three years, noting that it could reduce landfill volume and aid in landfill compression.

Chow said it was better to look for other non-plastic alternatives such as baskets, tiffin carriers and cotton bags to reduce dependency on plastic bags.

“We are not saying that plastic bags are completely banned as we still need them to dispose of our garbage. But, we want the people to reduce the use of plastic bags as far as possible,” he said.

Commenting on a Chinese daily report on Tuesday, which claimed the state’s Cleaner Greener Penang campaign had failed to obtain full support from Penangites, Chow said the campaign was on a long-term effort.

“Our environmental awareness campaign is about changing the people’s mindset and behaviour, which cannot be done overnight. Some habitual practices such as using plastic bags may be difficult to change, but people may eventually change their attitudes after a while,” he said.

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