GEORGE TOWN, Feb 4 — A non-governmental organisation has called for the use of recyclable containers to serve food and drinks during the three-day Thaipusam celebrations beginning on Wednesday.
Although polystyrene and plastic materials are banned in states of Penang and Selangor, the use of these materials is still prevalent especially among food operators and related businesses.
Consumers’ Association of Penang’s (CAP) education officer N.V. Subbarow said stall operators should be conscious of the harmful effects of plastic materials dumped by roadsides and the surroundings of the temple.
“After any celebration we see plastic plates, cups, spoons, forks, bags and containers discarded by the roadside which is not only an eyesore but also harmful to the environment," he said.
“Plastic does not degrade easily and stays in the environment for many years causing harmful toxic damage to plants, marine life and animals.
“Recently, we also heard of large chunks of plastics from the oceans being washed ashore in islands around the world,” said Subbarow.
He advised the stall or “taneer panthal” operators to show more care and concern for Mother Earth and use biodegradable materials when serving drinks and food.
Subbarow also called on the public to be more conscious of the environment and play their part in conserving nature and the surroundings.
“There must also be enforcement by local authorities so people will be reminded and discouraged from using these harmful materials.
“We are not calling for a hefty fine or punishment but a gentle reminder to the public on the harmful effects of polystyrene and plastic bags.
“Subborn stall operators should be denied renewal of their licences if they fail to conform to this advise after several reminders,” said Subbarow.
He also called on the panthal operators to use recyclable containers for serving beverages.
“They can also opt for stainless steel plates and cups which can be washed and reused. The public can bring their own utensils which is more hygienic
“The public must also learn not to waste food just because they get it free. Take what you can eat and leave the rest for others. Stall operators can also serve food in moderation.
“There is no shortcut in protecting Mother Nature as human beings must learn to forsake harmful items considered damaging to Earth,” said Subbarow.