MYROLE RTM1- Featured GrASS on 25 Jan 2011, 330pm

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Dear Friends,

We here at GrASS need your help to help us gather the below mentioned items to help us raise funds for our shelter and other independent pet rescuers.

The items are:

Scrap Paper
Old Newspapers
Old Magazines
Unwanted uncooked/raw Acidic Fruits ( Oranges, pineapples, lime,lemons)
Unwanted uncooked/raw fruits
Unwanted uncooked/raw Vegetables
Brown Sugar
Rice Bran
Red Earth
Glass Jars/Plastic containers with lids
Cardboard boxes (any other cardboard materials)
Aluminium Cans
Expired Food Products

For more ways on how or what items you can donate to help please visit HERE

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Article: High usage

Tuesday February 24, 2009


There is no solution in sight for the plastic menace as the material is still freely issued, then carelessly discarded, each day.

THE pink bag in the heap of garbage clogging a drain catches your eye instantly. Another one clings to a tree branch in a mangrove swamp. Yet another is blown across across the street as cars pass by.

These are the plastic bag menace that many Malaysians can identify with. Although they are an undisputed modern day convenience, the clarion call to do away with plastic bags have echoed around the world for environmental reasons. Several countries have banned the use of plastic bags or levied a tax on them.

Last year, China which uses three billion plastic bags a day, banned the production of ultra-thin plastic bags. In 2002, Ireland introduced a tax on plastic bags, reducing their use by 90%.

In some countries where the central government has not acted, communities have taken unilateral action to outlaw the bags. San Francisco became the first American city to ban plastic bags from large supermarkets in 2007 and the state of California requires large stores to take back plastic bags and encourage their reuse.

In Malaysia, the call to ban its use has been mooted now and then with little success. The latest is the Subang Jaya Municipal Council's plastic-free campaign launched last August with a declared aim of turning the Selangor municipality into the first place in the country to eliminate the use of plastic bags by 2010. The public is encouraged to switch to paper bags, biodegradable carriers or their own shopping bags.

Punching bag

"It's not the bag that is the problem but what you do with it after that," argues Malaysian Plastic Manufacturers Association chairman Lim Kok Boon, who felt that the humble bag has been made a punching bag for anyone who professes to be a greenie.

"You want to be seen as green, you go after the plastic bag, nobody will disagree with you," he says, acknowledging that plastic bags, being free, does encourage the "throw away" mentality.

Frustrated by the negative public perception of plastic bags, the industry under the umbrella body Malaysian Plastics Forum is trying to address the problems associated with plastic waste by asking Malaysians to re-examine their attitudes towards the bags. The other Forum members are the Malaysian Petrochemicals Association and Plastic Resins Producers Group.

They launched a month-long campaign at the end of 2007 with six hypermarkets in the Klang Valley to kick-start its 3R (reduce, reuse, recycle) programme. During the campaign, shoppers were encouraged to maximise the use of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) grocery bags in a bid to reduce the numbers dispensed at check-out counters. Each hypermarket assigned one outlet for this pilot scheme.

Employees were told to pass on the message of the campaign to shoppers in the hope that they would support the drive. Customers could also drop off unused plastic bags of all sizes and colours into recycling bins provided by five participating recyclers.

At the end of the month-long campaign, four out of six outlets registered a 25% to 36% decline in dispersion of plastic bags. However, figures shot up for two outlets by 25% to 51%. Overall, a 6% increase was recorded, while 14,630 pieces of bags were collected from the outlets.

Lim explains that the outcome was influenced by the festive shopping period which generally sees an increase of 50% in sales, hence the 6% increase (in bags dispersed) actually marks the success of the campaign.

He is also satisfied with the 2.4% (of the 609,000 bags given out) return rate of plastic bags as he reckons many shoppers will keep the bags for secondary uses, particularly as bin liners.

Still, the bin liners will eventually find their ways into the landfills, where they will remain and not degrade.

Plastics waste

Lim argues that the degradable issue is grossly misunderstood by many.

"Studies in the United States discovered that paper does not degrade at a substantially faster rate than plastic as nothing completely degrades in modern landfills due to the lack of water, light and oxygen that are necessary for the process to be completed. Researchers have pulled out an intact piece of newspaper buried three decades ago in an Arizona landfill," he says in reference to a project undertaken by the University of Arizona.

Lim is also sceptical of statistics that highlight the menace posed by plastics in landfills. He says the official figures that plastics constitute 24% of landfill volume, the second highest after food waste, is questioned even by two waste management concessionaires, which have recorded lower figures.

The National Solid Waste Management Department recognises the discrepancy in the figures and hopes to clear the doubt under the 10th Malaysian Plan with better data collation system.

"It's equally important for us to get the right picture so that we can have an effective waste management plan," says department director-general Dr Nadzri Yahya.

Lim also says distinction must be made on biodegradable plastic – those made from organic material like corn starch, and those that use petroleum like the normal plastics but with an additive that speeds up disintegration.

Ideally, both types of "compostable" plastics should be treated in specialised industrial facilities rather than sending them to landfills. But there isn't such a facility in this country and bio-degradable plastics are not widely used.

"It'll be silly and self-defeating if we dump something that is supposedly biodegradable into the landfill but it doesn't live up to its claim," he warns.

MPMA is also worried that should biodegradable bags gain popularity, it would pose a serious challenge to recycling of the standard HDPE plastic bags.

"The polymer compositions are different and if they are mixed, it could jeopardise the recycling process," Lim explains. To prevent the anticipated contamination, he is seeking the co-operation of retailers to adopt the plastic coding system on their plastic bags to ease identification in support of the 3R programme.

"The retailers, especially the big hypermarts, can instruct their respective (plastic bag) suppliers to print the code on the bags. They can even go one step further by enhancing the visibility of the recycling logo on the bags to drive home the message to the public," he adds.

Nevertheless, the intention of the 3R campaign begs a question: Why would the industry support a programme that will surely affect the bottomline of plastic manufacturers?

Lim says the industry expects to see between 20% and 30% drop in business but the campaign has the support of all 900 members, who account for 80% of the country's total production of plastic products. The plastic bags industry is worth RM1.8bil of which 80% are exported. The local market consumes the remaining 20% valued at RM360mil.

Lim says the industry is helmed by third generation managers who are educated and are aware of the environmental impact of their business.

"They know that it makes business sense to do the right thing, rather than have plastic bags blamed disproportionately, resulting in a ban that will mean the end of the business," he says, adding that Malaysian Plastic Manufacturers Association will take its campaign beyond the Klang Valley this year.

Well, don't take the industry's word for it. Take it up on its challenge – recycle your plastic bags!

Coming March 3

There is no solution in sight for the plastic menace as the material is still freely issued, then carelessly discarded, each day.

This article was taken from: The Star Online: Lifestyle: Focus 24 February 2009

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