Friday, 23 July 2010

Ban on polystyrene use should come sooner, not later

I am very glad that the Penang government is going one step further in its efforts to have a cleaner, greener state by banning the use of polystyrene material (styrofoam) for packing cooked food effective from January next year.

When I was at the Streets Come Alive event at the George Town Festival earlier this month, what held back my family from enjoying the food tidbits on display and on offer at the stalls was the use of polystyrene cups and plates. At that time, we were already aware of the possible health risks that this material could bring. Why take the chance? Whenever we buy hot food from outside, we also bring our own metal tiffin carriers. Neither do we want our hot steaming food in the clear plastic bags.

I've only two regrets, though. First, it is still going to take five more months before enforcement. Why on earth can't this ruling be implemented sooner, like in October or September or even August? Second, this ban should be extended to all food courts, not just those under the Penang Island Municipal Council and the Province Wellesley Municipal Council. Health risk is the same, whether hawkers are plying their business at private food courts or Council-run food courts, so there shouldn't be double standards.

Nevertheless, while looking at some archived news, I am heartened to note that both private and government hospitals in the state will be banning polystyrene use even faster. According to Sun2Surf, private hospitals have already taken steps to stop using such containers while government hospitals have up until next month to do so.

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