Background No Free Plastic Bag
 

In 2009, the state government has conducted a survey among the six major groups of super/hypermarkets in Penang. The survey shows that as much as 25.2 million pieces of plastic bags or 2.5 million pieces monthly have been distributed in 2008 alone. This does not take into account the other millions used by retailers, hawkers and other businesses.

According to a survey conducted by the D Playground Events for the state government in 2009, in Penang, 74.86% out of 1500 interviewees think that plastic bags create huge environmental problem, and 53% of them think that the government should ban the use of plastic bags. 67% stated that they are more likely to bring shopping bags when shopping and use standard bin liners (34%) and 33% are willing to pay for the plastic bags.

During the public consultation dialogue on 19 April 2009, the participants passed a resolution, "resolving to act collectively and individually and commit ourselves to the following immediate and positive action".

  1. Support efforts to consciously reduce the use of plastic bags; with eventual goal of minimizing the excessive usage of disposable plastic bags;

  2. Proper management and disposal of plastic bags;

  3. Promote usage of more sustainable alternatives;

  4. Support and participate in public educational and awareness campaigns on proper use of plastic bags.

"In this regard, we resolve to work together and make Penang a clean and livable city for all residents of Penang, and to transform it into an international city that is a choice location for investors, tourists and other visitors.

We support the State government's effort in this endeavor and call on the public and private sector, community as well as civil society groups to join us in this effort."

On 6 July 2009, Penang State government decided to adopt the no free plastic bags initiatives same like other 42 countries or cities all over the world. The "No Plastic Bags Every Monday" campaign was launched on 6 July 2009, the state managed to save up to 1 million plastic bags within four months.

On 1 January 2010, the state government extended to "No Plastic Bags Every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday".

On 1 January 2011, The Penang State Government has created a history by implementing the "No Free Plastic Bag Everyday" rule. The ruling applies to all hypermarkets, supermarkets, pharmacies, fast-food outlets, nasi kandar restaurants and convenience stores (including petrol stations). The state government is not imposing a total ban on plastic bags. Those who want plastic bags can still purchase them for 20 cents. The state government has been consulting the major stakeholders in Penang from time to time such as hypermarkets, supermarkets, convenience stores, etc. since 2009. The extension of "No Free Plastic Bag Day" to everyday is a consensus that arrived in the meeting.

In this initiative, creative 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) has been promoted. We distributed free shopping bags made of used banners; some people also put clean, folded plastic bags in their pocket and reuse it.

The charges of each plastic bag (20 cents) will be donated to the Hardcore Poverty Fund. People can save the 20 cents by bringing their own shopping bags. The Federal government has emulated such approach in their "No Plastic Bag Every Saturday" nationwide campaign starting Jan 2011.

The ruling is not applied to hawkers and petty traders. The Penang state government understands that people needs time to adapt to the new policy. If the state government had not considered the plight of the plastic manufacturers, it would be a blanket ban on plastic bags as requested by some of the NGOs.

Our feedbacks show that from Jul 2009 - Jun 2011, the state has recorded a reduced amount of usage of at least 33 million plastic bags. Most of the super/hypermarkets or single shops that took part in the “No Free Plastic Bags Everyday” have stopped ordering plastic bags starting mid-2010, there are no comparison between 2010 and 2011, so we have stopped tracing the figures as the figures will be inaccurate.

Since this green initiative began, we noticed that the volume of disposable waste has reduced by nearly 10%.

In 2005, 696,743 metric tons of wastes were disposed in Penang. The volume of disposed waste was reduced to 645,019 metric tons in 2009 and followed by a further reduction to 639,743 metric tons in 2010. This year, Penang achieved recycling rate at 23.8% which exceeds the target set by the Federal government (22%) for 2020. This means that we are nine years ahead of time.

Chronology of the No Free Plastics Bags Initiatives and Regulations in Penang

Date
Description
Location
2009

13 Feb

Invitation letters sent to schools, business organizations and related government agencies to attend Earth Day Dialogue.

 

18 Feb

Data collection from six major groups of super/hypermarket group in Penang.

 

19 Apr

Public Consultation-- Dialogue Earth Day 2009: Plastic Bags: To ban, or not to ban?

Speakers:

  1. Waste Management and Recycling of Plastics in Malaysia, by Lim Kok Boon: Chairman, Malaysian Plastics Forum(MPF)/President, Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association(MPMA)
  2. To totally ban the giving out of plastic carrier bags at all supermarket checkout counters, by Mr Don Theseira, 3Rs community
  3. Choosing a Greener Lifestyle, by Dr Lee Lik Meng, Project Coordinator of Healthy Campus, USM
  4. Health and Environmental Effects of Plastic Bags, by Ms Hatijah Hashim, Researcher, CAP

Dewan Bosch, Caring Society

19 Apr

Public Survey on 1500 respondents conducted by D.Playground Events

 

18 Mei

Meeting with super/hypermarkets (Chaired by YB Phee)

KOMTAR

2 Jun

Meeting with super/hypermarkets (Chaired by YB Phee)

KOMTAR

5 Jun- World Environment Day

Chief Minister of Penang YAB Lim Guan Eng announced the No Plastic Bag Every Monday campaign will be carried out starting 1 July 2009.

KOMTAR

15 Jun

Meeting with representatives from Grocery Shops Association Penang (Persatuan Kedai Runcit Pulau Pinang)

KOMTAR

16 Jun

Meeting with super/hypermarkets (Chaired by YB Phee)

KOMTAR

3 July

Launching of Campaign Theme Song "Change- A tribute to the environment", Singer: Jzelynn

G Spot, G Hotel Penang

4 July

Official Launching of "No Plastic Monday"

Sunshine Farlim

5 July

Launching of "No Plastic Monday"

Tesco Extra Seberang Jaya

13 July

Received memorandum from Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association (Northern Branch)

 

19 July

Launching of "No Plastic Monday"

Giant Bayan Baru

23 July

Letter to Malaysian Bank Association (Penang Branch)

 

14 August

Launching of Used Banner bags by YB Phee

 

10 Sep

Meeting with super/hypermarkets

 

5 Nov

Letter to Malaysian Association of Hotels(MAH) Penang Chapter

 

26 Nov

Letter to Film Censorship Board (LPF)

 

30 Nov

Letter to all cinema operators to request for 10 seconds cinema advertisement

 

9 Oct

Chief Minister of Penang announced that, based on the data provided by 11 super/hypermarkets and other retailers, starting from 6 July until 30 Sept 2009, Penangites have saved about 580,000 plastic bags on 13 "No Plastic Mondays".

KOMTAR

23 Oct

Meeting with super/hypermarkets and cinemas (Chaired by YB Phee Boon Poh)

 

1 Nov

Meeting with super/hypermarkets (Chaired by CM)

28th floor

21 Nov

Go Green Campaign-- Chief Minister of Penang announced that, according to the data provided by 45 supermarkets, hypermarkets and other retailers, it is estimated that Penangites had saved over one million plastic bags in four months.

Queensbay Mall

26 Nov

Meeting with all stakeholders (Chaired by CM)

 

27 Nov

Chief Minister of Penang announced that the State government has decided to extend "No Plastic Bag Day" to three days a week for hypermarkets, supermarkets, chain and franchise stores, professional outlets and firms starting 1 Jan 2010. The 3 days will be from Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and plastic bags will still be charged 20 cents each during those days. All single retail stores will also be required to participate but only for one day a week (Monday).

 

1 Dec

Obtained approval from Film Censorship Board

 

22 Dec

Meeting with authorities (legal Advisors, health officers Local governments) with regard to extension of "No Plastic Bag Day"

 

30 Dec

Meeting with all stakeholders

 
2010

1 Jan

MPPP has imposed specific conditions for the renewal of business licenses under Section 107 (2), Local Government Act 1976

 

2 Jan

Official Launching : "No Plastic Bags Day Every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday"

KOMTAR Walk

5 Jan

Official Launching : "No Plastic Bags Day Every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday"

Giant Bayan Baru

6 Jan

Meeting with authorities (legal advisors, health officers, local governments, licensing department) with regard to extension of "No Plastic Bag Day", chaired by Chief Minister of Penang

KOMTAR

7 Oct

Meeting with super/hypermarkets (Chaired by YB Phee Boon Poh)

KOMTAR

1 Nov

Meeting with super/hypermarkets (Chaired by CM)

KOMTAR

8 Dec

CIMB Foundation had approved RM 400,000 for LA21 MPSP to carry out "No Free Plastic Bags" projects

 
2011

1 Jan

Local governments have imposed specific conditions for the renewal of business licenses under Section 107 (2), Local Government Act 1976. The ruling applies to all hypermarkets, supermarkets, pharmacies, fast-food outlets, nasi kandar restaurants and convenience stores (including petrol stations).

 

15 Jan

Official Launching of Everyday is "No Free Plastic Bag Day"

Gurney Plaza

24 January

Launching of Everyday is "No Free Plastic Bag Day".

Tesco Sungai Dua

2016

12 Oct

Review the "No Free Plastic Bags" Initiatives with MBPP,MPSP, kicked off the "No Free Plastic Bags 2.0".

 
2017

6 March

Dialogue with the stakeholders on "No Free Plastic Bags 2.0"

Auditorium A, KOMTAR

8 March

Dialogue with the stakeholders on "No Free Plastic Bags 2.0"

Kompleks Sukan MPSP Bertam

31 March

Guidelines for Enforcement of "No Free Plastic Bags 2.0" in Penang.

 

Nov-Dec

Public Survey on Plastic Bag Usage in Penang