By LYDIA NATHAN / Pic By TMR
Fake and substandard biodegradable bags are being sold following the ban on conventional plastic bags as unscrupulous sellers capitalise on the prohibition of the environmentally harmful products since September last year.
The ban had pushed up the prices of plastic bags and food containers in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan.
However, the additional cost had been borned by traders who were prohibited from charging customers extra for the environmentally friendly products.
Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng (picture) said there is a possibility the biodegradable bags implementation system has failed as some manufacturers have created their own versions of biodegradable bags.
“I note with great concern that the 100% biodegradable bags implementation has failed due to unethical manufacturers who mislead their buyers and businesses who take cheaper, dubious options to cut cost,” he said in a statement.
The fake bags had the ministry’s “biodegradable” stamp, as well as the “eco-label stamp” by SIRIM, complete with the certification number.
SIRIM, formerly known as the Standard and Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia, is a corporate organisation that certifies products according to national regulatory requirements.
Lim also voiced his concern over the techniques used by the Federal Territories (FT) Ministry to determine if the biodegradable bags are fake or not.
“The FT Ministry has been testing these bags using smell and touch. This primitive sense technique is laughable. This method will not hold in the court of law and may cause Kuala Lumpur City Hall to be sued instead,” he said.
Lim said there are no current empirical measures for testing and it was up to the officers to decide, based on his or her senses.
“It is totally dependant on the officers’ touch and feel and the memory of what the standards are. It also gives rise to plenty of opportunities for
corruption,” he said.
However, FT Ministry secretary general Datuk Seri Adnan Mohd Ikhsan was reported as saying that enforcement officers were trained to differentiate between the 100% biodegradable plastic bags from the fake ones.
He said the original ones had a silky feel and sweet smell. Lim said the government needs to come up with a more convincing and universally approved solution to solve the issue.
“We cannot hastily embrace the commercially produced biodegradable plastic bags. It needs a more convincing solution.
“Plastic bags may be the biggest villain to our mother Earth. Even the so-called 100% biodegradable plastic bags, recommended by Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan to replace the use of plastic bags with the price of four times more than the plastic bags, may not be 100% friendly to the earth because it may contain up to 40% plastic ingredients,” Lim said.