Brunei adds Thursdays to plastic-free days

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (Borneo Bulletin/ANN) - As part of the ongoing drive to make Brunei plastic-free, one more day will be added to the ‘No Plastic Bag Weekend’ initiative, starting April 19, 2018.

Currently, the initiative is conducted from Friday to Sunday and with the new move, it will be extended to Thursday, Dr Nor Imtihan binti Haji Abdul Razak, Acting Permanent Secretary (Administration and Finance) at the Ministry of Development (MoD), said at a press conference yesterday.

The announcement was made in conjunction with the recently observed Earth Day 2018, which appropriately carried the theme ‘End Plastic Pollution’. The latest initiative aims to realise the government’s objective of making the country totally plastic bag-free by 2019. The remaining days of the week will be added in phases with Wednesday tentatively to be included in July 2018, Tuesday in October 2018 and Monday in December 2018.

Also present at the press conference held at the MoD was Martinah binti Haji Tamit, Acting Director at the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation (JASTRe).

"The aim of this initiative is to reduce the use of plastic bags in a bid to lessen the amount of waste needed to be disposed and contribute to bringing down the generation of solid waste per capita from the current 1.4 kilogrammes, the highest in the region, to one kilogramme per capita by 2035," she said.

"The ‘No Plastic Bag Weekend’ initiative, implemented by the Ministry of Development through JASTRe was launched on March, 26, 2011. Initially, the drive included Saturday and Sunday and Friday was added on March 26, 2012 with a call to raise the 3Rs (reuse, reduce and recycle) towards reducing plastic waste. To date, a total of 50 department stores and businesses have voluntarily joined the ambitious initiative."

"In assessing the effectiveness of the initiative, the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation conducted a survey in 2015 at four major department stores in the Brunei-Muara District to get customers’ feedback on the initiative.

"It involved 1,000 respondents and 80 per cent of them supported the initiative while 20 per cent said they make use of reusable bags.

"Fifty-two per cent chose Thursday as the additional no plastic bag day while 18.5 per cent preferred Monday.

"Sixty-four per cent of the respondents understood the negative effects of using plastic bags and support the proposal to completely banning them," the acting director said.

Some vendors and department stores that participated in the survey said they have saved about two to three thousand dollars every month by not providing plastic bags on weekends, she added.

"The initiative now involves department stores and such businesses, and soon, convenience shops, restaurants and food stalls across the country will be brought under the drive.

"With the commitment from local department stores and businesses, we will be able to carry out this initiative with a whole-of-nation approach," Martinah said.