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Launching of No Free Plastic Bags Day at Tesco Sg Dua

Speech by the Chief Minister of Penang YAB Lim Guan Eng
on the Launching of Everyday is No Free Plastic Bags Day
on 24 January 2011 (Monday) at Tesco Sg Dua

Penang Will Initiate A 3R bin For Every 100 steps in George Town and Seberang Perai To Encourage Reduce, Reuse and Recycle or 3Rs in Penang.

YB Phee Boon Poh,
Exco for State Exco of Health ,Welfare, Caring Society and Environment

Mr. Tjeerd Jegen,
CEO Tesco Stores (Malaysia),

Mr. Tim Golding,
COO Tesco Stores (Malaysia)

Mr. Azlam Shah Alias,
Director of Government & Legal Affairs

YB Raveen Tharan,
ADUN Batu Uban

Members of the press,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Penang State government, I would like to thank Tesco Malaysia for showing their support for the "Everyday is a No Free Plastic Bag Day" campaign by organizing this special launching in Tesco Sungai Dua.

Your support is especially important when the state government is under attack by the pro-plastic groups. We believe that the majority of civic-minded Penangites share our vision of transforming Penang into an international and intelligent city. To succeed, Penang must also be a green state.

We believe that Penang can be the first green state in Malaysia. To succeed we need the support of civil society to conduct a public awareness campaign of the importance of reduction of plastic bag consumption.

Malaysians are dumping RM 163 million value of recyclable sources in plastic forms. On average, an individual uses 8 pieces of plastic bags in a week.
The time has come to say "No" to Plastic bags.

Penang was the first state in Malaysia to launch the "No Free Plastic Bag" campaign in July 2009. On 1 January 2011, Penang created history by being the first state to do it every day of the week, every week of the month and every month of the year. The ruling applies to all hypermarkets, supermarkets, pharmacies, fast-food outlets, nasi kandar restaurants and convenience stores (including petrol stations). Mini-markets and single stores will also be asked to do the same on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays when they renew their yearly licences. However, hawkers and wet markets are exempt from the ruling.

Even the Federal government is emulating the same approach in their “No Plastic Bag Every Saturday” nationwide campaign starting Jan 2011.

Our survey in 2009 has shown that 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.

I would like to stress that we are not imposing a total ban on plastic bags. Those who want plastic bags can still purchase them for 20 cents. You can save 20 cents by bring your own shopping bags.

Proceeds collected will be donated to the States Partners Against Poverty (PAP) Fund. Until Dec 2010, we have collected RM 401,867.95 for the fund. For Tesco alone, they have collected RM 115,241 for the Fund since they started their No Free Plastic Bags Day in July 2009.

At the same time, we would like to stress that reducing plastic bags is just a small and simple step in terms of reducing waste. If we cannot even succeed in plastic bag reduction, we will not succeed in any other waste reduction program. Penang is the frontline battle for environmental protection and plastic bags reduction. If Penang succeeds then only we can convince the Federal government to extend it everyday throughout the year in Malaysia.

I would like to call upon Tesco and other shopping malls to seriously consider setting up a "Recycling Buy Back Center" in your shopping mall to encourage 3Rs- Reduce, Reuse and Recycling. The state government has also launched a "A 3Rs bin for every 100 steps" in George Town and Seberang Perai to encourage 3Rs which will be launched on 22 April 2011 in conjunction with the celebration of Earth Day.

According to the Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Corporation, every household in Malaysia dumps average 3 tonnes of household waste everyday. This is enough to fill up half of Peninsular Malaysia within one year. The current cost of waste management in Penang is at least RM50 per tonne. If consumers sell back 1 tonne of aluminum tins, they will get back around RM3800 in return. The local government saves at least RM5000 if 100 tonnes of recyclable items are collected and recycled, we can eventually reduce our waste and save the environment for our children.

The State Government has taken a political risk that can result in losing its popularity, by initiating a bold step to implement "no free plastic bag" everyday from January 1, 2011. PR Penang state government's willingness to sacrifice by losing popularity shows PR's commitment to reduce carbon footprints and fight climate change.

Once again, I would like to thank Tesco for their utmost support and for hosting the launching ceremony of this campaign today.



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