Reducing plastic: H&M to charge 10 cents each for shopping bags in all Singapore stores

NABILAH AWANG Today Online 15 Jul 19;

SINGAPORE — Fashion retailer H&M is joining the environmental battle to reduce single-use plastic bags and other packaging with a new charge of 10 cents each for shopping bags.

The initiative, which will start from July 25, is part of H&M’s “circular packaging strategy” to reduce the use of plastic in the long run, the firm said in a media release on Monday (July 15).

All proceeds collected from the charge for plastic and paper shopping bags will be donated to WWF Singapore’s Plastic ACTion (Pact) initiative — an industry-wide push for businesses to reduce plastic use by 2030.

As the first fashion retailer signatory to the Pact initiative, H&M said it is committed to eliminating unnecessary packaging, transitioning to reusable materials and using recycled plastic in its packaging by 2025.

Various firms in the food and beverage sector, as well as some hotels, have already signed on to the Pact initiative.

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Weekly dengue cases in Singapore hit highest level since January 2016

Channel NewsAsia 16 Jul 19;

SINGAPORE: Dengue cases last week rose to 666, the highest recorded in a week since 2016, the National Environment Agency (NEA) confirmed on Tuesday (Jul 16) on its website.

The last time the weekly recorded numbers peaked was in January 2016, when there were 637 cases in one week.

As of 3pm on Monday (Jul 15), there were 7,483 recorded cases of dengue in Singapore in 2019.

This is about five times more than the 1,481 dengue cases in the same period last year, NEA said. The number is also more than twice the 3,285 cases for the whole of 2018, and the 2,772 cases for all of 2017.

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Malaysia: Making tiger protection a national priority

Nirooshini Madaven New Straits Times 15 Jul 19;

KUALA LUMPUR: WWF-Malaysia will launch a year-long Malayan Tigers Pledge during the Global Tiger Day celebration this year, in hopes to make protecting Malayan tigers a national priority.

Its executive director/CEO Sophia Lim said the Malayan Tiger Pledge would provide an avenue for Malaysians to symbolically support the establishment of a National Tiger Committee and garner the support of one million people by Global Tiger Day 2020 celebration.

She added that by actively including the civil society as a critical component of the effort, there would still be hope to protect our Malayan tigers for generations to come.

“We can ensure their survival if we act now instead of documenting their extinction,” said Lim at the Malayan Tiger Run 2019-Roar for Life!, launched today.

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Malaysia: Stiffer penalties to curb poaching in Terengganu

Rosli Zakaria New Straits Times 15 Jul 19;

KUALA TERENGGANU: The State Legislative Assembly today unanimously approved amendments to the Taman Negara National Park Enactment No. 6 of 1939, paving the way for the state government to introduce stiffer penalties against poachers.

The amendments, proposed by Ariffin Deraman (Pas-Alur Limbat) and seconded by Ir Saiful Azmi Suhaili (Pas-Kemasik), makes Terengganu the second state after Pahang to amend a similar Enactment with the same purpose.

It also follows the success of the National Parks and Wildlife Department in April when they arrested a group of poachers from Indochina during Ops Belang, aimed at monitoring the habitat of tigers and other protected wildlife.

Debating the motion, Hishamuddin Abdul Karim (Pas-Tepuh) said although the Fatwa Council decreed that poaching was haram (prohibited), it was not sufficient to stop illegal hunting activities.

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Malaysia is overflowing with waste and we’re running out of options

SIM LEOI LEOI The Star 16 Jul 19;

Since the Sg Kim Kim crisis broke and sickened almost 4,000 people with noxious fumes in Pasir Gudang, Johor, in March, Malaysians seem to have woken up to a new reality about waste.

It’s not just the river that runs through the maze of factories in the industrial area that is a dumpsite for tonnes of toxic chemicals; pretty much all of Malaysia has become a dumping ground for all sorts of wastes.

The media is littered with reports of illegal dumping, whether of plastic, chemical or construction waste, e-waste or even plain old rubbish.

One only has to go to illegal landfills in towns like Jengjarom, Kulim and Sg Petani to see the severity of the problem – and pictures of the mounds of trash in these small towns in Selangor and Kedah have made their way to international media.

How did it come to this?

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Indonesia: 127,977 Gunung Kidul inhabitants affected by drought

Antara 15 Jul 19;

Gunung Kidul, Yogyakarta (ANTARA) - Drought has affected a total of 127,977 inhabitants of Gunung Kidul District, Yogyakarta Special Autonomous Region, and the dry spell is forecast to get worse.

"The dry spell leaves 15 sub-districts parched, and the number of affected villages has increased," Edy Basuki, head of the Gunung Kidul disaster mitigation office, said here on Monday.

Of the 15 sub-districts, the sub-districts of Girisubo, Paliyan, Rongkop, Panggang, and Tepus are the worst affected.

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Indonesia: Bali wins plastic-ban battle in Court, steps closer to being plastic-free island

Ni Komang Erviani The Jakarta Post 15 Jul 19;

Bali is on track to reduce plastic waste on the resort island after the Supreme Court rejected a judicial review that challenged the local administration’s limit on single-use plastic.

“[The verdict] means that the gubernatorial regulation that limits the use of single-use plastic has a strong legal position and can be applied across Bali,” Bali Governor Wayan Koster said Thursday.

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Thailand: Mounting dugong deaths cause alarm

APINYA WIPATAYOTIN Bangkok Post 15 Jul 19;

Two more dugongs were found dead on Sunday, one off the coast of Krabi and the other in Trang, bringing the death toll to five in four months, said Kongkiat Kittiwatanawong, director of Phuket Marine Biological Centre.

In Krabi, the dead dugong was pulled out of the sea between Koh Pu and Koh Phi Phi. The other dead dugong was found washed ashore on Hat Samran beach in Trang's Hat Samran district.

The Krabi dugong was a 2.3-metre long male weighing about 400kg, said Woraphot Lomlin, head of Hat Noppharat Thara National Park-Phi Phi Archipelago in Krabi.

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Recycled electronics are turning Thailand into a 'dumping ground for hazardous waste'

Kathryn Diss ABC News 16 Jul 19;

Electronic waste from Western countries, including Australia, is flooding the shores of South-East Asian nations like Thailand, sparking fears of air and water pollution.

Global waste markets were upended in 2018 when China implemented tough new import restrictions on plastic and e-waste materials from foreign nations, forcing countries to find new markets.

Australia is among the countries taking advantage of the lax environmental regulations in Asia, redirecting trash China will no longer take to countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

But the rapid shift in global markets has had a devastating flow-on effect to communities now dealing with a flood of contaminated waste.

In Thailand, scores of new sorting and recycling companies — many of them illegal and with Chinese shareholders — have sprung up in provinces surrounding the country's main port of Laem Chabang.

The agricultural district of Chachoengsao, east of Bangkok, is one of the provinces which became a dumping ground for e-waste.

Local villager Payao Charoonwong said she has lost her main water source as a result.

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When did Southeast Asia become a dumping ground for waste?

If Southeast Asian countries no longer accept waste from high-income countries, where will the waste go? City University of Hong Kong Dr Danny Marks tackles the tough questions behind our giant waste problem.
Danny Marks Channel NewsAsia 16 Jul 19;

HONG KONG: Seventy-five per cent of globally exported waste ends up in Asia. But since July 2017 — when China began to ban imports of plastic waste — Southeast Asia in particular has become a dumping ground for wealthier countries’ waste.

After China’s ban, the amount of plastic waste imported to countries like the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia more than doubled.

As the amount of foreign waste accumulates and resentment grows among local populations, Southeast Asian governments are beginning to refuse to act as the world’s dumpsite.

Both Malaysia and the Philippines recently announced plans to return waste from Western countries that had improper labelling.

Malaysia and the Philippines have already returned waste to Spain and South Korea, respectively. Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam recently restricted plastic waste imports, with a complete ban planned for in the coming years.

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