Press Statement by Phee Boon Poh, Penang State Exco Member, Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee cum Vice-Chairman of Penang Green Council on 23 July 2018:
A recent survey found that environmental consciousness is rather strong in Penang, with 79% of respondents being extremely concerned about environmental issues in Penang. However, their level of concern does not trigger for a behavioural change (for this study, behavioural change refers to bringing their own shopping bags instead of paying for plastic bags). The survey also revealed that 67% of the respondents recognised the importance of plastic bags usage reduction in order to reduce waste in Penang.
Penang Green Council (PGC) has conducted the survey on The Public Perception For The State Policy Implementation Of No Free Plastic Bags Every Day In Penang, between November 13 and December 22, 2017. The survey was carried out to provide a better understanding of public opinion to policy makers and to help set the pace in developing future state policy. The questionnaire survey was conducted online and offline and involved a total of 2,582 consumers from shopping malls, wet markets and roadshows in both Penang and mainland.
Penangites gradually become aware of the “No Free Plastic Bags Every Day” state policy since the state government launched the campaign in 2009; yet, only 27% of respondents are fully aware that the wage of 20 sen for each plastic bag is channelled to the state’s AES (Agenda Ekonomi Saksama) programme in eradicating poverty, according to the survey.
Statistics show that awareness does not always translate into a shift in consumer behaviour. The survey found that 65% brought their own shopping bags, while 25% chose to buying plastic bags; from this number, 413 respondents admitted being forgetful, whereas 181 respondents said plastic bags are the best carrier for a variety of goods, especially groceries and fresh produce .
The data collected showed differences among Penangites on their views toward the state policy. Other findings from the report include:
- 85% of female respondents used their own shopping bags compared to 49.4% of male respondents.
- Referring to the profession of the respondents, 98.4% of the respondents from the retired category brought their own shopping bags.
- The majority of individuals with no income or unemployed (98.7%) carried their own shopping bags compared to other income groups.
- Environmental concern and awareness are not the ultimate reasons some respondents practise the use of shopping bags. Respondents who expressed lower level of concern for the environment, in addition practised the use of shopping bags, comprise of the following categories: self-employed, housewives, students, unemployed, retirees, those with higher income (RM7,501 and above) and individuals without income.
Plastic bag has been a wonderful product, but its ubiquity, has a high price as we pay millions to clean up our streets, rivers and oceans. Thus, Penang was the first state in Malaysia to initiate the “No Free Plastic Bags” campaign in July 2009. The state government has had the policy for retailers for several years. In 2017, a Guideline on “No Free Plastic Bags” was then formulated. “No Free Plastic Bags” is part of a culture change, a paradigm shift; with stringent measures, policies and care for the city we live in, it is how Penang becomes a “Cleaner, Greener, Safer, Healthier and Happier” state.
The findings from this survey served as a guidance and reference to monitor the progress of the policy. You may see the report at www.pgc.com.my/plasticbagsurvey, for more detail and insight.
Penang in Numbers – Green Data On top of that, Penang is the first state that compiled a series of environmental indicators based on the eight goals of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs). Through PGC, we have published Penang in Numbers – Green Data, one of the evidence based approaches in developing Penang Green Agenda (PGA). The Green Data tabulated various sustainability led data that is available in Penang at present in regard to the UNSDGs. The SDGs are a collection of 17 global goals, each with a separate list of targets and indicators. They are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy prosperity. The Green Data highlights the current situation of Penang with the indicators of the following goals: Goal 2: Zero Hunger Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production Goal 13: Climate Action Goal 14: Life Below Water Goal 15: Life On Land This study aims to formulate a state level indicators based on the SDGs indicators, by becoming a reference point to all key stakeholders and to strengthen the foundation of the PGA. The Green Data consists of 57 different indicators which are consolidated and categorised into their respective SDGs. The data and information are equally contributed by related government departments. The collection of data for Penang will be an on-going basis as data will be continually updated once a year to enable public keeps track on Penang’s progress in terms of environmental factor data and also helps stakeholders measure Penang’s sustainability. You can download the Green Data from PGC website: www.pgc.com.my/pga/penang-in-numbers-green-data.
Phee Boon Poh