Visit any mamak stores or food court to “tapao” your meal and your take-away order will usually be packed in a in polystyrene packaging. It’s so common that many of us assume it’s safe, however, reports have shown that this material can cause negative harm to both our health and the environment.
Last month, we heard that the usage of polystyrene and plastic will be banned in Johor in an effort to preserve the environment. Yesterday (17th May 2016), it was announced that Shah Alam is also aiming to stop the use of polystyrene packaging by next year, starting with next month’s Ramadan bazaars.
According to The Star, the campaign will be carried out in 4 stages to allow traders and food providers sufficient time to switch to environmentally-friendly packs. To begin with, food trucks have already been discouraged to use of polystyrene food containers at the start of this month. This would apply to the 30 Ramadan bazaars locations next month.
After the Ramadan bazaars, the 2nd stage will take place on 1st August in markets and food stalls. Restaurants and shopping centres will follow suit from 1st October onwards. By the 4th stage next year, all operators will be required to stop using polystyrene packages.
“We will be giving 150 biodegradable food packs to the traders (at Ramadan bazaars). The cost has been factored into the rental of the lots,” said Shah Alam mayor Datuk Ahmad Zaharin Mohd Saad during the launch of the campaign at the MBSA Auditorium yesterday.
“Selangor will be initiating a no-polystyrene campaign next year. However, until we receive a directive, traders are allowed to use the packs. We cannot stop the food traders from using the polystyrene containers but we want it to be controlled. Using environmentally-friendly boxes is a practice they would have to start from now for the sake of environmental sustainability,” he added.
Known as a “silent killer”, polystyrene not only takes 500 years to disintegrate in landfills, it can also cause cancer. Although the effects cannot be seen immediately, it’s time for Malaysians to be more aware of the health risk when using polystyrene products.