Shoppers favour plastic bags

Apr 03, 2014

Malaysia's No Plastic Bag Saturday policy has had minimal effect on the amount of plastic waste going to landfills, according to new research.

The three-year study, led by Dr Victoria Little from Monash University Malaysia's School of Graduate and Professional Studies, concluded that plastic bag taxes and bans have not reduced the impact of plastic on the biosphere.

"While the No Plastic Bag Saturday policy has raised awareness of the environment, it has had a negligible effect on reducing use," Dr Little said.

The research team, which included Professor Christina Lee, Head of the School of Business and Dr Sumesh Nair, a senior lecturer in the School, found the policy objectives of less to landfill and decreasing pollution were not achieved.

The research team observed shopping behaviours, talked to shoppers, retailers and not-for-profits, as well as consulted with waste management experts. They found that expatriates and locals had very different responses to the policy.

"We noticed that expats usually bring reusable bags and refuse plastic bags, while locals often resisted. Instead, they did their best to maximise their access to free plastic bags, Malaysian shoppers are strongly attached to their bags and perceive access to the bags as their right," Dr Little said.

Retailers reported that even obviously wealthy customers insisted on free bags and some reported increased thefts of trolleys and baskets by shoppers unwilling to pay 20sen for their bags.

It was also noted there were unintended side effects of the policy, longer queues on Sundays as shopper's avoided Saturdays, as well as negative perceptions of the Government's environmental record.

"The consumption patterns in modern societies are not sustainable. We extract raw materials, transform them into products, consume those products, and dispose of the waste in landfills," Dr Little said.

The team believe that following a five-step plan which includes controlling the types of plastic bags manufactured, more anti-litter campaigns, tougher penalties, convenient recycling facilities and a per kilogram payment for recycled bags, would help reduce the impact of plastic bags on the environment.

The steps acknowledge the high value consumers place on the bags, rather than targeting consumers. The issue of waste and misuse is addressed throughout the production, distribution, consumption and disposal system.

Explore further: Plans for 5p charge for plastic bags in England

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Europe may ban plastic bags

May 18, 2011

With each European using 500 plastic bags per year, and tonnes of plastic littering the Mediterranean, the European Commission may ban them from stores or tax them to combat pollution.

India's capital widens ban on plastic bags

Nov 23, 2012

The Delhi government imposed a blanket ban on the use of all plastic bags on Friday in an attempt to tackle the city's mounting rubbish problems, an official said.

China to step up fight against plastic addiction

May 29, 2011

China will expand a ban on free shopping bags, state media said, as it tries to further curb its addiction to plastic in a bid to rid the country of "white pollution" that clogs waterways, farms and fields.

Recommended for you

Dead floppy drive: Kenya recycles global e-waste

13 hours ago

In an industrial area outside Kenya's capital city, workers in hard hats and white masks take shiny new power drills to computer parts. This assembly line is not assembling, though. It is dismantling some ...

New paper calls for more carbon capture and storage research

17 hours ago

Federal efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions must involve increased investment in research and development of carbon capture and storage technologies, according to a new paper published by the University of Wyoming's ...

Coal gas boom in China holds climate change risks

22 hours ago

Deep in the hilly grasslands of remote Inner Mongolia, twin smoke stacks rise more than 200 feet into the sky, their steam and sulfur billowing over herds of sheep and cattle. Both day and night, the rumble ...

User comments : 0