Supermarkets keep money from selling plastic bags


GEORGE TOWN: Several supermarkets kept the money collected from the sale of plastic bags instead of handing them over to the state government.

The chairman of the state’s environment committee, Phee Boon Poh, said they have identified the supermarkets and are reviewing state regulations to deal with them.

He said the money, which came from consumers who paid 20 sen for each bag, was intended for programs implemented under the Ekonomi Saksama Agenda (Just Economic Agenda) to help the poor.

“These supermarkets use a federal law that says the money could be used for community or corporate social responsibility programs.

“But we will pursue them. They must follow local council orders or state laws, which require supermarkets to remit funds to the state government.

“In fact, that’s part of the condition of license. We will not hesitate to revoke it if necessary.

“We will be talking to the state’s legal advisers,” he told reporters after opening a dialogue session on “Say no to plastic straws and single-use plastics” with canteen operators from factory at Komtar yesterday.

The government in Penang had introduced “Plastic Bag Free Day” in stages, starting with the decision that no free plastic bags would be distributed on Monday from July 2009.

It was extended to three days a week in 2010, and daily in 2011 for some companies.

Plastic bags should be purchased at 20 sen each at hypermarkets, supermarkets, department stores, convenience stores, fast food outlets, gas stations, chain stores and pharmacies.

The policy does not apply to small hawkers, wet market traders or self-employed businesses.

In March of this year, the state’s local government committee chairman, Jagdeep Singh Deo, said the state had raised RM8.9 million since the introduction of “Plastic Bag Free Day” in 2009, when these bags were charged 20 sen each.

Starting yesterday, the state government took the initiative one step further – no plastic bags for buyers on Monday even if they are willing to pay 20 sen, on a three-month trial.

Phee, however, said the initiative would be on a voluntary basis, adding that no action would be taken against fixed premises operators who did not take part in the initiative.

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