Speech by YB Phee Boon Poh, Penang State EXCO for Environment and Welfare cum Vice-Chairman of Penang Green Council on 6th January 2022
In less than a month, we will be ushering the year of the Tiger and roll-out the firecrackers and lion dancers. Also not forgetting the Chinese tradition of gifting as an act of respect, gratefulness and passing of their best wishes. It is still important to keep our traditions going despite modernisation. However, I hope that this Chinese New Year, we could all also spare a thought for the impacts our actions have on the environment during the festive season.
According to National Geographic in 2018, 40% or 161 million tons of plastic produced was for packaging which was used just once and then discarded. On top of that, with the ongoing endemic since 2019 has also fueled the use of single-use plastics especially face masks and PPE has disrupted our efforts to reduce its usage. Findings from a survey conducted by PGC revealed a shift towards online shopping during the time of pandemic ultimately contributed to the growing appetite for single-use plastic packaging during transportation. Soon, hampers packed full with auspicious goodies will be given as gifts to friends and families will then be usually wrapped in single-use plastic packaging for CNY.
Since the inception of ‘No Free Plastic Bag’ every Monday back in July 2009 till today, the State Government has not given up its mission to slowly phase out single-use plastic in Penang. As part of another continuous effort to curb the spike of single-use plastic in the upcoming festive season, Penang Green Council together with Elianware Malaysia hereby encourages retailers, supermarkets and hypermarkets to swap out single-use plastic hamper packaging with reusable containers. These reusable containers can be used as storage containers after emptying out the CNY goodies, giving them a second life instead of ending up in the landfill. We also hope that consumers will be more cautious and be mindful of their choices whilst shopping for the upcoming festivity.
I hereby wish everyone a safe, healthy, prosperous and greener year of the Tiger.