No more free plastic bags in Penang

By Debra Chong, The Malaysian Insider

Shoppers in Penang will be charged 20 sen for each plastic bag everyday from today, as the state government steps up its green campaign.

The charge applies to all hypermarkets, supermarkets, departmental stores, pharmacies, fast food restaurants, nasi kandar chains and convenience stores, including those at petrol stations in the state. 

Mini markets and single-owned businesses will also have to comply with the state directive to stop giving out free plastic bags on three days in a week — namely Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays — when they apply to renew their licences. 

Only hawkers and market traders are excluded from the new rule. 

The money gained will go into the state’s specially set-up joint-venture fund to help the poor, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said today at the launch of the anti-plastic bag campaign here. 

“We hope efforts to reduce plastic bag use will help us achieve our vision of becoming the first green state in Malaysia,” he said. 

The state will also be giving out free bags made from recycled cloth banners to push its drive further. 

Recyclable bins will be placed every 100 steps in George Town and two other places in the Seberang Perai municipality to promote cleanliness. 

Lim had introduced the idea to charge for plastic bags two years ago in a bid to cut the state’s spending on garbage disposal. 

The first-term CM had previously remarked that the local councils spent RM57.6 million, nearly a third of its income in 2007, to deal with garbage disposal.