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Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Traders requesting more time from DBKL to adapt to the new rules on the use of biodegradable packaging.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Give us time to adapt, traders tell City Hall     

    Change is never easy: Traders in Kuala Lumpur and other Federal Territories want more time to adapt to the new ruling for biodegradable packaging which came into effect on Jan 1 . —ROHAIZAT MD DARUS/ The Star
    Change is never easy: Traders in Kuala Lumpur and other Federal Territories want more time to adapt to the new ruling for biodegradable packaging which came into effect on Jan 1 . —ROHAIZAT MD DARUS/ The Star
     
    THE Federal Territory Bumiputra Traders Association is requesting more time from Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to adapt to the new rules on the use of biodegradable packaging.
    Its president, Datuk Rosli Sulaiman said that while the association supported the move by Federal Territories Ministry and DBKL to ban polystyrene, the organisation needed time to get all their members to go green.
    “We have over 50,000 members, and I can safely say that maybe 50% to 60% are ready with the right mindset to move away from using polystyrene packaging in their business and switching to greener alternatives,’’ he said.
    “But they need a little more time to transition, and we hope the authorities will not be too strict with them,’’ he said.
    Kuala Lumpur Hawkers and Petty Traders Association vice-chairman Datuk Ang Say Tee echoed Rosli’s sentiment.
    “We are aware of the government’s good intention in doing this. In the long run, we will definitely see the benefits, but the economy is not so good now, so we hope DBKL will not simply fine us,’’ he said.
    “On our part, we promise to educate our members to start using biodegradable packaging,’’ Ang added.
    Little India Traders representative, G. Gunasegaran, too, wanted more time to get traders under his jurisdiction to switch to greener packaging.
    “There is no doubt that biodegradable packaging is good for the environment, but it is also more expensive. We do not want traders to start passing the cost to the consumers,’’ Gunasegaran said.
    “We are meeting with the manufacturers (of biodegradable packaging), and we hope that they will supply us the packaging at a cheaper rate; so all we ask is some time,’’ added Gunasegaran.
    Raja Bot traders reject green packaging
    Meanwhile traders at the Raja Bot market in Chow Kit, Kuala Lumpur, who were picked for a pilot project to promote the use of biodegradable packaging, have not been using the eco-friendly plastics provided last June by the Federal Territories Ministry.
    At a launch on June 3, Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor had said that only biodegradable packaging would be permitted in Kuala Lumpur beginning Jan 1.
    He clarified that only biodegradable food containers, plates, cups, bowls, spoons, forks, straws and plastic bags for takeaway would be allowed.
    The 40-year-old Pasar Raja Bot, one of the oldest markets in the city, was picked for the pilot project with over 200 licensed traders selected to participate. The second phase in August involved night markets, restaurants and food trucks in the city centre such as at Kampung Baru, Bukit Bintang, Brickfields, Putrajaya and Labuan.
    The third phase was implemented in October at shopping malls, hypermarkets and hawker centres, and the fourth phase was to carry it out at all three Federal Territories once the Federal Territories Biodegradable Product Usage By-Law was enacted.
    When StarMetro visited Pasar Raja Bot last week, none of the traders were using the green plastic as they said it was not practical.
    “When we saw the plastic, I knew it was not going to work,’’ said Mohd Nor Shah, who sells mangoes. “Firstly, the bags were too small.
    "It could barely contain two mangoes,’’ he said.
    Mohd Nor pulled out a few of the biodegradable bags he had stored away and started to fill it with mangoes to prove his point.
    True enough, the bag was only able to take in two average-sized mangoes.
    “I can only fill 300gm of langsat and duku in the bags,’’ chipped in Mohd Kahar, another trader selling fruits.
    “If people want to buy 500g or more, the bags (biodegradable) would be useless,’’ he added.
    A vegetable seller, who only wanted to be identified as Ali, said the biodegradable bags were too delicate and tore easily.
    “Some customers take the bus or taxi to come here, and they prefer the normal plastic bags which are sturdier and able to withstand the journey back.
    “The biodegradable bags are too thin and not suitable at all. Believe me, we tried them, but they were just not suitable,’’ added Ali.
    StarMetro approached the owners of dozens of stalls in the market, asking people if they used the green plastics, but not a single person was found using it.
    A noodle seller who identified himself as Manan said he was still using the polystyrene containers for takeaways.
    “The alternative is too expensive. I am struggling (with business), and I am surviving because my food is cheap and my customers appreciate that especially now with the economy being so bad,’’ he said.
    “But if I am forced to change and to use new packaging, I will have to increase my prices, which I do not want to do,’’ he added.
    The traders also said there had been no follow-up action from the authorities like the Kuala Lumpur City Hall or the manufacturers since the launch of the campaign six months ago,.
    “They came, they launched, they gave us the bags for free, then we never saw them again,’’ said a trader selling persimmons.
    StarMetro also checked out areas in Bukit Bintang and Brickfields, where the pilot project was implemented in phases at night markets, restaurants, hawker centres and hypermarkets, and found no one was using biodegradable materials.
    In Jalan Alor in Bukit Bintang, traders were still relying heavily on polystyrene packaging for their food.
    In fact, all the hypermarkets and convenience stores in the commercial areas were still using normal plastic bags.
    Over at Brickfields, the night market traders said they were unaware of the government ruling. In the city centre, many were spotted using polystyrene packs and plastic cups.
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