Awareness on negative effects of plastic bags still low among Malaysians

Awareness against the usage of plastic bags is still very low among Malaysians, says environmentalist Andrew Sebastian.

Sebastian, who is also chief executive officer of Ecotourism & Conservation Society Malaysia said plastic bags being the country’s number one solid waste pollutant have continued to plague the country’s marine ecosystem.

“It is time to seriously rethink and come up with an action plan to make it convenient for consumers and safe for the environment. I believe it is part of the people’s mindset. We need a total paradigm change to understand and address the issue,” he told Bernama.

According to the Malaysian Plastic Manufacturers Association, each Malaysian uses about 300 single-use plastic bags a year.

On May 28, the United Nations launched a global campaign to #BeatPlasticPollution in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Change Agreement objectives to ensure reduction in plastic use which will bring reductions in heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions.

Sebastian believed in most cases, small changes with consumers such as bringing along their own shopping bags, use of biodegradable packing, along with incentives and penalties could see a major impact on the environment.

“First, we must understand the types of plastics we are targeting for zero use. The single use consumer plastics must be cut down and eliminated among rural and urbanites, with a different approach of awareness campaign,” he added.

Since there is no concrete steps taken until today, Sebastian believed every citizen should take the lead to be proactive and to clean up in our communities in order to bring a balance between mankind and nature.

Meanwhile, SP Setia had in June collaborated with Ecocentric Transitions to celebrate World Environment Day with a group of 80 young children from four adopted schools under the SP Setia Foundation’s Caring School Programme, to inculcate and promote the value of caring for the environment.

SP Setia chairman Tan Sri Dr Wan Zahid Mohd Noordin said the #BeatPlasticPollution campaign could educate these young students and raise awareness on practical steps to overcome plastic pollution through Refuse, Repurpose, Reconnect, Recycle and Recognise.

“We believe there is a need to expose the young to alternative solutions and behaviours that discourage plastic consumption. and as a leading property developer, we will continue to create awareness so that everyone can play their part to care for our planet,” he said.