Say ‘no’ to plastic bags


While the rest of the world is moving towards bans on the free distribution of plastic bags, supermarkets in Malaysia are still happily dishing out such bags, which are an environmental nightmare.

Why are we so gung-ho about plastic bags and what is preventing the authorities from asking supermarkets to stop freely giving out plastic bags and instead encouraging customers to use reuseable cloth or jute bags? Is it a case of apathy or is the ‘plastics lobby’ in Malaysia so strong?

Our landfills, rivers, streams and drains are clogged with plastic bags of all sorts. Then, there are all those “mineral” water bottles.

Even at the local corner shop or hawker stalls, we can say no to plastic bags and bring our own reuseable bags or containers instead.

But be careful of certain reuseable bags that are not exactly environmentally friendly.

This article from National Geographic News:

Plastic-Bag Bans Gaining Momentum Around the World
John Roach
for National Geographic News
April 4, 2008

From Australia to the U.K., and all across the U.S., politicians and corporations are pondering banning or taxing plastic bags.

A hefty surcharge that began in 2003 in Ireland has spurred the public there to spurn plastic bags almost completely in favor of reusable cloth totes.

Plastic sacks are also taxed in Italy and Belgium. Grocery shoppers must pay for the bags in Switzerland, Germany, and Holland. Spain, Norway, and now the U.K. are considering a ban or tax as well.

The political action in the U.K. on single-use plastic bags follows similar gestures earlier this year in Australia.

There a national ban or tax is being hotly debated, though the state of South Australia, which includes the city of Adelaide, has promised a ban on free single-use bags by year’s end no matter what.

The state’s premier, Mike Rann, listed familiar reasons for the ban: The bags contribute to greenhouse gases, clog up landfills, litter streets and streams, and kill wildlife.

Banished Bags

Unsightly pollution appears to be behind China’s January announcement of a countrywide ban on the thinnest totes and a tax on others. It begins June 1, two months before the Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Taiwan taxes the bags, and the cities of Dhaka, Bangladesh, and Mumbai, India, ban them to prevent flood-inducing storm-drain clogs during monsoon season.

Once jokingly called the “national flower,” thin plastic bags have been banned in South Africa since 2003; thicker ones are taxed. Similar measures exist in Eritrea, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda.

In the U.S., the cities of San Francisco and Oakland, California, ban the bags and promote reusable and compostable sacks. Elsewhere in the state supermarkets are required to take back and recycle the bags.

Full article here.

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Sam Gopal

Interestingly, in several of the fairs I went to in PISA in the last year, I have noticed that many a Malaysians collect these cloth Tote bags, & keep it as a Souvenir. They go around grabbing and collecting as many bags as possible. So I think giving out free tote bags will only go into their collection. To make them use it – force them to take it out and use it to reduce plastic bags usage. CHARGE FOR PLASTIC BAGS! In the supermarkets and hyper markets, I have seen shoppers grab extra empty plastic bags, that can only… Read more »

Malaysia Darul Sampah

there is not a place in this country that is clean tidy and orderly. rubbish is everywhere from the drain, pavement the market , housing estate whether its the front or back lane, the food court , the industrial area. apart from all these nonsense the electrical pole , traffic light pole, telephone pole , signboard pole are all in slanting position. why is it all those majlis perbandaran from the bottom to the top are not sacked when it is proven they cannot perform all these years. employ only those who really care about cleanliness and love the environment… Read more »


BN-led states are always slow in acting. I suggest the Pakatan-led states to implement it first to show us you deserve to govern malaysia in the future. giving out reusable bag for free can be very costly for the sponsors and we must also take into account the mindset and attitute of malaysians like: 1. Since it is free, I will take as many bags as I want. 2. I better take all these bags and sell them to others. 3. I take these bags and use them as item storages. Here in Australia, we pay 0.50$ for each reusable… Read more »


I noticed that increasingly more retailers/companies are promoting the use of the re-usable tote bags in Malaysia. For example, in the most recent PC Fair, such bags were given out free in abundance, courtesy of some sponsors. Also, some clothing retailers in Malaysia and Singapore are also giving away such re-usable tote bags instead of plastic or paper bags. These are encouraging moves but a lot more companies have to be involved, especially the hypermarkets. I fully agree that our government has not done enough to control the use of plastic bags, let alone stop their usage. Is the government… Read more »


Eventhough the awareness against the use of plasic bags has been publicly announced. But still, people are still using it despite the urge of using reusable cloth totes.

Why do we have to wait for the government to give out free totes to start this habit?
The cost of buying a RM4 reusable totes once can save tonnes of plastic bags used everytime you do your shopping routine.


We migh dislike McD, KFC and whatever… but they have been using recyclable packaging for a decade or more now. Yes, no more plastic bags for Penang. Everybody buy the reusable bag and use forever….


I’ve resisted taking plastic bags from shops for a few years already. In addition, we should also not use straws and tissues if we don’t have to. Use both sides of the paper, etc. Or one day we will be swarmped by mountains of garbage!


Happy New Year to you Anil, and your readers.

On this topic of using plastic bags, I’m guilty of not doing enough to reduce my dependence on these bags. I find it very useful as garbage bags, and my garbage collector simply won’t collect rubbish that are properly sealed in a plastic bag, I suppose to reduce leachant from the trucks.

For the new year I resolve to reject plastic bags for items purchased which I can very well manage with my hands or tote bags.


When others are moving forward, we are going backward with our tak apa attitude. It has been a BIG problem, yet the Federal Government are not even doing much. I applaud Selangor State Government for starting with their staff.

Any MP here please push the State/Federal Government to help improve our lovely environment. It would be a good start for the year 2009!


The Penang government should take the lead to ban plastic bags in Penang.

Sdr Guan Eng, should add the letters ‘S’ to the Penang government policy term ‘CAT’. S is for sustainability.

Yeah!! ‘CATS’ for a better future ..

We care

” reusable cloth totes” should be provided free to all consumers by supermarket & heavily subsidied by the Federal Government.

Only this way, the ” free distribution of plastic bags,by supermarkets in Malaysia ” will simply stopped.

Free ” reusable cloth totes” should be given away freely starting today.


Thank you for your tireless work in bringing us news of the issues that matter, Anil. May the new year bring blessings for you and yours.