Monday, January 4, 2010

"No Plastic Bag" Day

Going green: Customers at Carrefour will need to pay 10 sen ($0.03 CDN) for a plastic bag if they insist on having one.

For those stores that haven’t completely banned plastic bags, one city in Malaysia is setting the example for the rest of the world. The paper vs. plastic vs. reusable bag debate has been discussed heatedly for years everywhere from government boardrooms to back yard fences.

Many grocery chains, cities and countries are encouraging shoppers to bring their own reusable bags in an attempt to reduce the number of plastic bags used. However, apathy from consumers; forgetful shoppers; tepid advertising; and, other factors have prevented the change from achieving much success.

In order to try to reduce the demand for and usage of plastic bags, the Selangor (one of the Malaysian states) government had declared its plan to make every Saturday a plastic-bag free day. This plan had been announced on Dec. 20/09; and, came into effect on Jan. 1/10. However, since the first Saturday of this year was Jan. 2/10, the first plastic-bag free day caught many shoppers unprepared. While many were delighted when informed of what had happened; a few were more than a little miffed at being caught without any reusable bags.

Carrefour, one of the world’s largest retailers and operator of hypermarkets (supermarket combined with a department store), supermarkets, hard discount and convenience stores has over 15,000 stores - either company-owned or franchise - globally. Company spokesmen say that the few complaints they received about “no plastic bags” day came from consumers who were unaware the campaign had gotten underway.

Carrefour public relations manager, Salmieah Mohd Zin, explained that "most Carrefour stores in the Klang Valley have been plastic bag-free since last year and their target was to have no plastic bags in Carrefour Malaysia by 2012."

From now on, the price of being caught without a reusable bag will be 10 sen ($0.03 CDN) – a possible incentive to carry a reusable bag at all times.

This recently-invented insult to the environment was introduced a mere 25 years ago; and, society has become so enamoured of them that we go through 500,000,000,000 (500 billion) plastic bags annually. That is almost 1 million bags a minute.

Introduced just over 25 years ago, society's consumption rate of plastic bags is now estimated at well over 500,000,000,000 (that's 500 billion) plastic bags annually, or almost 1 million per minute.

Most people are unaware that plastic bags photodegrade. They know they will last forever in a landfill; but, what of other arenas. Since they photodegrade – breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic particles – they are capable of contaminating soil, contaminating and/or clogging waterways; and, enter the food chain through accidental animal ingestion. For more information on the environmental crisis caused by plastic bags, go to

Some major locations such as San Francisco, the Republic of Ireland, China and South Africa have all implemented various taxes or outright banning of plastic bags. Despite the actions of these forward thinkers, plastic bags still account for monumental amounts of waste and toxic emissions globally.

Meanwhile, checking back in to the State of Selangor, the chain store Giant will start its “no plastic bag” days from Jan. 9/10 says their marketing manager Ho Mun Hao. He adds that their stores in Penang have gotten behind the campaign enthusiastically, promoted the campaign well and used managers to explain the concept to customers.

“We will prepare carton boxes for customers to pack their things. Plastic bags will still be available at 20 sen ($0.06 CDN); but, we will be selling reusable bags at RM1.99 ($0.62 CDN),” Ho added.

Cold Storage will also observe the “no plastic bag day” on Saturdays. Currently, the stores do not give out plastic bags on Thursdays; however, it is not clear whether Cold Storage will add Saturday as an additional “no plastic bag” day or just switch their “no plastic day” to Saturday.

Convenience store chain 7-11 will also be starting its “no plastic bag” campaign this Saturday, its website said.

Via Star Online and Care2

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