JOHOR BARU: The practice of using tiffin carriers to pack food in the old days by the public should be encouraged and promoted again by the authorities.
Green Earth Society Johor president P. Sivakumar said the practice could help reduce the usage of polystyrene food containers which was not good for the environment.
He said that it was common in the old days to see customers bringing their own tiffin carriers or aluminium coffee mugs to buy food and drinks.
Sivakumar said that even marketgoers used to bring their own rattan baskets unlike now where plastic bags were commonly used by traders at the market
“Maybe we can start by encouraging customers to bring their own tiffin carriers or containers for takeaways.
Food operators should lower charges for customers who bring their own containers,” he said, lauding the move to ban the use of polystyrene containers in the Federal Territories with effect from January 2017.
Johor Consumer Movement Association committee member Rosmi Hassan said the local councils in the state should consider giving incentives to food operators to switch to biodegradable containers.
“We still have a long way to go before our society can accept biodegradable containers but we have to start somewhere,’’ he said.
Any decision, said Rosmi, must be a win-win situation for both operators and customers, adding that the price for takeaways should not increase.
Johor Health and Environment committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said Mentri Besar Datuk Mohamed Khaled Nordin would make an announcement on the banning of polystyrene food containers at the tabling of the state budget this year.
“The state authorities and agencies have to address several issues before implementing the ban,’’ he said.
Ayub said that while banning such containers would be good for the environment, the authorities must also look into other factors.
He said there were not many manufacturers in the country producing biodegradable containers from plant-based materials such as oil palm, tapioca, corn and sugarcane.
“Malaysians are price sensitive and might not be happy if they are charged an extra 50 sen for taking away food in biodegradable containers,’’ said Ayub.
Polystyrene, which does not break down naturally, can remain an environmental hazard for hundreds of years, clogging up drains and rivers.
Those that collect water also end up becoming breeding grounds for mosquitoes, posing a danger to the public.