MALAYSIA – The state of Penang has banned the use of polystyrene (PS) containers from 1 December 2012.
This ban will be strictly enforced in all supermarkets, hypermarkets and food and beverage outlets in Penang, and errant businesses will be severely punished, warned the state government.
“All food and beverage outlets in Penang will have to adhere to this ban or else have their licences revoked,” said Phee Boon Poh, state executive councillor for environment, health, welfare and caring society.
“This applies to all businesses, no exceptions; so for hypermarkets they are not allowed to use polystyrene containers for packing of raw or cooked food items too,” he stressed.
The implementation date of the ban was carefully timed to start from 1 December 2012 as all traders and hawkers will need to renew their business licenses by January 2013; if any of them are found to have flouted the ban, their licenses could then be immediately revoked.
As local businesses have had ample notice and time to clear any old stock of PS containers, Phee said they have no excuse not to adhere to the ban.
This new regulation is part of the state government’s ‘Cleaner, Greener Penang’ initiative to increase recycling, reduce pollution, and promote a cleaner, greener sustainable state.
Explaining the need for a ban on PS containers, Phee explained that PS packaging is one of the main pollutants that choke up drains, and increase the risk of flooding in the state: “When we use less polystyrene containers, which are also bad for our health, we see less blocked drains so this brought on a chain effect of lesser flash floods and lesser dengue cases.”
The Penang government started raising awareness among consumers and industry against the use of PS containers in July 2009, and from 2010, consumers were encouraged to use alternative packaging, explained Phee,
“In 2010, we started encouraging the public to switch to recyclable containers or to use tiffin carriers to pack food and last year, we appealed to the public for a total change of mindset,” he said.
This is not the state’s first environmental packaging legislation; on 1 January 2011, Penang became the first Malaysian state to implement a ban on plastic shopping bags from all hypermarkets, supermarkets, departmental stores, pharmacies, fast food restaurants, nasi kandar outlets, convenience stores including petrol kiosks and chain stores.