MALAYSIA – The town of Sibu in Sarawak, Malaysia, has banned the use of polystyrene containers for food and beverages in all food outlets, including hawker stalls and coffee shops, restaurants, school canteens and other eateries.
This prohibition is one of the conditions in the issuance of licenses for all eateries under the jurisdiction of the Sibu Municipal Council (SMC). Businesses which do not comply will face the revocation of their licenses.
The ban was first announced in August 2013 to give businesses time to clear their existing polystyrene container stock and source for alternative packaging before its implementation on 1 January 2014.
The regulation is part of SMC’s Local Agenda 21 initiative, which was launched in 2001 and has seen the council launch various environmental projects such household recycling, waste segregation at source, waste composting and garbage enzyme programmes.
Support from businesses for the polystyrene container ban
Businesses in Sibu, which has a population of around 257,800, have responded enthusiastically. When SMC officially launched its ‘Say No To Styrofoam” campaign in October 2013, Sibu Central Market Hawkers Association chairman Yiing Ching Lung announced that over 1,200 traders operating 60 food stalls would stop using polystyrene containers weeks before the implementation date of the ban and would use paper bags to pack food instead.
Sarawak Central Region Hotel Association chairman Johnny Wong also lauded SMC’s move and said, “We will help the council achieve its objective.”
Meanwhile, Consumer Association of Sarawak, Sibu Branch chairman Simon Tiong urged the public to bring their own tiffin carriers or lunch boxes to take away food.