Plastic pollution: What can you do to help?

13 Oct 2019 / 12:10 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) states there is an estimated 150 million metric tonnes of plastic waste in the sea disrupting marine life and that if the problem isn’t addressed effectively, about 8 million metric tonnes of plastic waste will end up in the ocean every year.

WWF-Malaysia sustainable markets programme corporate engagement manager, Jazlyn Lee, said everybody — from industry players to government agencies and consumers — has a role to play in dealing with plastic pollution.

She said consumers have been at the forefront of the movement to reduce the amount of single-use plastic, as well as insisting companies improve the design of their products and packaging.

“As a consumer, we can also try and reach out to policymakers for change, besides producers and companies. If there is no demand, companies and industry players will definitely have to do something to meet consumer requirements,” Lee told Bernama on the sidelines of the Sustainable Brands Kuala Lumpur 2019 (SB19KL) conference recently.

She said that reducing plastic production was also not just the responsibility of producers, but consumer brands too.

Brand companies should start investing in research and development (R&D) to help in the design of better packaging.

“Asia is drowning in plastic waste,” said Thammasat University’s School of Global Studies lecturer, Chris Oestereich, in a presentation at SB19KL, as he cited ‘’Our World in Data’’ which suggested that Asia dominates when it comes to river plastic input to the ocean.

Asia represented 86% of the global total, ahead of Africa at 7.8%, South America at 4.8%, while Central and North America, Europe and the Australia-Pacific region collectively accounted for just over 1% of the world total, he said.

Although high-income countries generate more plastic waste per person, they have effective waste management systems where mismanaged waste and plastic that ends up in the ocean is therefore very rare, he said.

However, since Asia consists of many middle- and low-income countries with poor waste management, these are the main sources of global ocean plastic pollution in the region, he further added.

Since 2009, several states in Malaysia have started tackling plastic pollution, with Penang being the first to introduce a ‘’No Free Plastic Bag’’ each Saturday campaign and charging 20 sen per bag

Malacca introduced a ‘‘No Plastic Bag Day’’ for Friday, Saturday and Sunday in 2014, and from January 2016, every day.

Selangor got in on the act with ‘’No Free Plastic Bag’’ on Saturday from January 2010, and later every day from January 2017, charging 20 sen per bag as well. — Bernama

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