Official Launch of Penang Feasibility Study for Recovery of Films and Flexible Plastic Packaging

Speech by YB Phee Boon Poh, EXCO for Environment and Welfare on 9th September 2022 at Bilik Jade, Level 31, KOMTAR

The discovery of film and flexible packaging’s valuable advantages has been growing across almost every industry – especially as the main choice for food packaging. This innovation’s versatility in shapes, sizes and durability has also solved many logistic problems in this modern society. Shelf life of perishable items can be increased, smells from the packaging contents can also be concealed, leakages of liquids can also be prevented and production costs is significantly lower than that of plastic and glass container.

This is a catch-22 situation. While our society progresses with innovations that improves our quality of life, on the other end, Mother Earth is paying the price for us. So how can we live sustainably in comfort? Film and flexible packaging are one of the predominant macro plastic waste streams that are difficult to recycle. Its existence in the atmospheric compartment is relatively short lived but progressively accumulates in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems as plastic litter. Plastic litters in both these ecosystems will then become the prominent source of secondary micro plastics and nano plastics in which could be ingested by humans through seafood and etc.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We cannot let this detrimental situation be part of our lives now and of our future generations. And we are all very well aware of it. This is why the Penang State Government has been working so hard since 2009 in addressing plastic waste crisis. The ‘No Plastic Bag Day’ campaign has managed to salvage a whooping amount of 33 million plastic bags from being litter. The chain of initiatives continued with total ban on polystyrene packaging, Waste Segregation at Source Policy, No Plastic Day Campaign and the latest – No Single-use Plastic Campaign. Plastic is the second largest waste generated in Penang with MBPP and MBSP reportedly at about 22.79% and 14% respectively.

Both ‘No Single-Use Plastic Campaign’ and ‘No Plastic Straw Campaign’ discourages merchants to give out plastic bags and straws by default. Instead, they are provided upon requests, with charges applied or none all together. These implementations have recorded a very high rate of success as evidence shows that Penangites have got the habit of making sure they have a reusable bag with them all the time and premises putting up reminders to encourage shoppers to bring their own bags. It is indeed very rewarding to see business embarking on this journey with us.

Here we are today, on another journey to make bigger breakthroughs for our effort to curb plastic pollution in Penang. This feasibility study will be the next level for us to address more types of mismanaged waste in the region. We are really happy to have Resource Recycling Systems, Inc (RRS) as our technical lead and fellow sponsors – Fonterra, Thong Guan Industries Berhad (Thong Guan), The Circulate Initiative (TCI) and FFM Berhad (FFM) to join venture in this meaningful project. All these efforts will also be supported by both local councils – MBPP and MPSP.

It’s unfortunate that we are where we are today but it’s never too late to stop it further and who knows, maybe someday we can enjoy mother nature like how our grandparents did. Only if we don’t do something, we can’t change anything. I hope to see more initiatives like this sprout in Penang because only together, we can make Penang a better place for you, me and everybody.

Thank you and LovePENANG.

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