Malaysian City Spends A Day Without Plastic Bags

The paper vs. plastic vs. reusable bag debate has been raging on for years, and although many cities and countries are encouraging shoppers to bring their own bags in an attempt to reduce the demand for plastic bags, forgetful shoppers and weak campaigns have meant that change has been slow.

For one city in Malaysia, however, the change was fast and furious- at least for a day.

The Star Online reports that the Selangor government had on Dec 20 declared its plans to make every Saturday a plastic bag-free day effective Jan 1. January 2 was the first Saturday in which the ban was in effect, and shoppers were both surprised and pleased.

A representative for Carrefour, one of the world’s largest retailers and operator of hypermarkets, supermarkets, hard discount and convenience stores in the area told The Star Online that amongst the few complaints were shoppers who simply weren’t aware that the campaign had already started.

Carrefour public relations manager Salmieah Mohd Zin added that “most Carrefour stores in the Klang Valley have been plastic bag-free since last year and their target was to have no plastic bags in Carrefour Malaysia by 2012.”

Customers who insist on plastic bags will have to pay 10 sen per bag.

Introduced just over 25 years ago, society’s consumption rate of plastic bags is now estimated at well over 500,000,000,000 (that’s 500 billion) plastic bags annually, or almost 1 million per minute.

Most people don’t realize that plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade – breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits, contaminating soil and waterways and entering the food web when animals accidentally ingest them (ReusableBags.com).

Although many major locations, like San Francisco, the Republic of Ireland, China and South Aftrica have all made moves to tax or ban plastic bags, their use still contributes to monumental amounts of waste and toxic emissions around the world.

Campaigns like the one in Selangor are the key to breaking the mental and physical addiction that we have to plastic bags, and training shoppers that they can get along fine without them.

Hopefully next Saturday won’t be such a surprise.

Learn more about the impact of plastic bag use at ReusableBags.com and take action by signing the “Paper or Plastic? Neither!” petition on Care2.

Image: Copyright © 1995-2009 Star Publications (M) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)

188 comments

Gaik Beng k.
Gaik Beng K5 years ago

In Penang (a state in Malaysia), plastic bags have been banned. They started by banning it from Monday-Wednesday and now, there is a complete ban, which is great because a lot of plastic bags end up in the drains and the ocean.

Check out this article: http://www.klik4malaysia.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6544:penang-to-ban-plastic-bag-usage-starting-jan-1-2011&catid=77:daily-news&Itemid=196&lang=en

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Eternalsource Wme

We should recycle as much as plastic we can, in that we can only save the planet.

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Chinmayee Jog
Chinmayee Jog6 years ago

South Australia has banned plastic bags in supermarkets. Most places in India have always used cloth bags or jute bags. It's a good thing that countries around the world are starting to cut down/ban plastic bags...

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Chelsea Buck
Chelsea B7 years ago

great idea, more places should try it.

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Alexis K.
Past Member 7 years ago

i wish the us will do this

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Jessica S.
Jessica S7 years ago

thanks

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Pratik Mehta
Pratik Mehta7 years ago

Malaysia Rocks!!! keep doing good work!!

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Joe Cool
Joe Cool7 years ago

Plastic bags have now been banned from supermarkets in France for several years. Everyone has smoothly adapted themselves and organized alternatives. A plastic bag " lost " in the environment will last hundred of years, we sure can do without.

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deadra u.
deadra u7 years ago

What a wonderful idea! I have thought that stores in the U.S. should do this if they had the "guts". They are too worried that shoppers would rebel and not shop in that particular store. They might be surprised.

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Brenda H.
Brenda H7 years ago

I always bring a backpack to the store with 2 additional plastic bags that I've been using for over a year now, to carry my groceries in. I even reuse the flimsy plastic bags for fruits.
I have a cardboard box in one of my rooms with a big collection of plastic bags and I try to limit the amount of new bags by pointing out that I can carry my purchases without them. Though sometimes the cashiers are faster than I am. :-s
At supermarkets you have to pay for plastic bags, at fashion stores you don't. Would be better if they too would charge for the bags..

Here in the Netherlands I have not seen many paper bags but we have special orange containers in which you can throw away your plastic (bags, food-wrappers, shampoo flasks etc.) for recycling.

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