Malaysia: Johor reiterates pledge to end polystyrene packaging, plastic bags use by 2018

AHMAD FAIRUZ OTHMAN New Straits Times 28 Dec 16;

ISKANDAR PUTERI: The Johor government has expressed its commitment to eliminating the use of polystyrene packaging and plastic bags in supermarkets and other businesses, given its January 2018 target to fully implement the ruling.

State Health and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said a state government-initiated roadmap to eliminate the usage of polystyrene and plastic packaging is being drafted, and it will contain policies that will encourage businesses to gradually switch to biodegradable packaging alternatives.

"By June 2017, all large supermarkets in the state will be encouraged to replace the usage of plastics and polystyrene packaging and replace them with paper bags or other biodegradable alternatives.

Many supermarkets have done so now as there is the no-plastic bag day on Saturdays with a 20 sen charge if customers still want a plastic bag.

"But by 2018, the state government will fully implement (the ban) for plastics and polystyrene," said Ayub in a press conference at the Dato Jaafar Muhammad Building in Kota Iskandar, here today.

In April this year, Ayub had told the state assembly that the Johor government planned to replace the use of polystyrene and plastic packaging for food with biodegradable alternatives.

Only biodegradable containers for Johor in 2018
The Star 29 Dec 16;

ISKANDAR PUTERI: The state government will enforce the use of biodegradable food containers in Johor from 2018 to replace plastic and polystyrene food containers.

State Health and Environment committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat (pic) said an awareness campaign to promote the use of biodegradable containers along with bio compost would be carried out between January and June next year.

He said that after June, supermarkets and hypermarkets would be encouraged to start using alternatives, including paper bags or any other biodegradable bags.

“Although we have yet to start our campaign, some food operators have taken the initiative to replace the use of polystyrene food containers,” he said, adding that RM250,000 had been allocated by the state government for the effort.

He said Johor Biotechnology and Biodiversity Corp (J-Biotech) would be spearheading the effort.

This included creating awareness, research as well as finding biodegradable alternatives for food operators.

Ayub said the state would also be looking into the pricing of the biodegradable containers.

Although costlier compared to polystyrene containers, he said, prices would fall when there was greater demand.

“If the difference is only about five to 10 sen, it should not be an issue,” said Ayub.

He also applauded the effort by supermarkets and hypermarkets that introduced “no plastic bag days” on Saturdays and hoped they would extend this to other days.

“We also encourage local councils to take part in conducting awareness programmes, especially before we start enforcing it in 2018,” he said.

He pointed out that Selangor took two years before enforcing a ban on polystyrene food containers, which takes effect next month.

Ayub said that the effort was vital for the environment, as Johor produced about 1,800 tonnes of rubbish per day, including 360 tonnes of polystyrene and plastic.

Disposal of the waste costs the state RM360mil every year, he said.

On a separate matter, he said, Johor had to date recorded a 31% decline on dengue cases with 10,567 cases this year compared to 15,777 cases in the corresponding period in 2015.

He said the number of deaths from dengue also declined by 50% with 22 deaths recorded compared to the 44 deaths in the same period last year.

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