‘Say no to plastic straws’ campaign seems to have lost its pull

07 Mar 2021 / 21:14 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: Metal, bamboo, lemongrass, and paper straws were among the types of drinking straws that appeared two years ago when the government implemented its “Tak Nak Straw Plastik” (Say No To Plastic Straws) campaign in an effort to reduce pollution and preserve the environment.

It became a trend then when most premises that sold food, including fast-food restaurants and cafes in hotels, no longer provided plastic drinking straws in line with the government’s call for the campaign to reduce disposable plastic use.

The campaign is in line with “Malaysia’s Roadmap Towards Zero Consumption of Single-Use Plastics 2018-2030” which was approved by the Cabinet on Oct 10, 2018 to reduce plastic waste in the country, including the use of plastic drinking straws.

But after two years, the “Say No To Plastic Straws” campaign seems to have fizzled out. Most restaurants are now back to using plastic drinking straws with only a few providing paper straws to customers.

This senario was acknowledged by Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Faculty of Forestry and Environment senior lecturer Dr Mohd Yusoff Ishak who described the public’s awareness of the campaign as declining and needed to be given “a shot in the arm” to ensure that the people do not forget the adverse effects of plastics on the environment.

“When the campaign was first launched, many people cooperated, and even the restaurant operators only provided drinking straws at the request of customers.

“However, the campaign to reduce the use of disposable plastics seems to have lost its effectiveness or has been forgotten, so it is time for the campaign to be revived again,“ he told Bernama recently.

He also suggested that the “Malaysia’s Roadmap Towards Zero Consumption of Single-Use Plastics 2018-2030” be reviewed and continued by placing the responsibility on the relevant agencies rather than under the responsible ministry so that its implementation is consistent when portfolio changes occur.

The agencies involved should also be given wider jurisdiction to enable law enforcement to be done from the aspect of solid waste generation to the landfill, he said.

At the same time, he said the plan should be revived because a lot of expenses have been incurred and efforts have been made, including experts to plan until 2030.

Prior to this, the Ministry of Federal Territories also enforced the ban on the use of plastic drinking straws for traders and restaurant operators, and it (the ban) became part of the conditions for a business licence from Jan 1, 2019.

Meanwhile, Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia president Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil suggested that the enforcement of the ban on the production and sale of straws from conventional plastics be enforced.

“We have to start from the basics if we want to ban the use of plastic straws (conventional), do not (allow) to sell again, which means shops selling plastics cannot sell straws.

“The campaign to ban the use of plastic straws, that was once implemented, could be considered unsuccessful. If we look now, more than 70 per cent of eateries and restaurants still use straws made from conventional plastic,“ she said.

Shariffa Sabrina said traders should not be profit-oriented but should have the nature of responsibility to play a role in preserving the environment.

Taking the example of the new routine procedures practised during the current Covid-19 pandemic, Shariffa Sabrina said the same could be done for the “Say No To Plastic Straws” campaign if the government continued the campaign and enforced it.

“If the government has been successful in telling the people to wear face masks through campaigns and enforcement, what is wrong with the government doing the same for this campaign,“ she said.

Meanwhile, some members of the public want the “Say No To Plastic Straws” campaign to be revived with customers not given the choice to ask for drinking straws when ordering drinks.

Ahmad Aiman ​​Muhammad Fadhil, 32, said eateries need to provide cups with suitable designs to make it easier for customers to drink, especially for takeaways.

“When there is no choice, regular customers will be able to enjoy drinks without straws, just like at home. For those who are not confident of cleanliness and still want straws, they should bring their own straws,“ he said.

Eric Ong, 21, on the other hand, is of the view that carrying a reusable beverage straw such as one made of metal should be the new normal in society.

“Now, there are a lot of compact and easy-to-carry drink straws for sale. Our society is easily influenced by things that are spread on social media, especially among the young. If the campaign is intensified, I am confident it will be the trend,“ he added. -Bernama

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