PENANG: Come Jan 1, plastic bags will be practically banned state-wide.
The move - an extension of the current "No Plastic Bag Day" in shopping centres and hypermarkets on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays - means that no plastic bags can be used every day by almost all business sectors.
The ruling will cover all hypermarkets, supermarkets, departmental stores, pharmacies, fast food restaurants, nasi kandar outlets, convenience stores including petrol kiosks and chain stores.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the move would reduce the state's carbon footprint.
"Mini markets and sole proprietorship businesses will have to adhere to the ruling on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in order to ensure the renewal of their licences.
"Previously, they only had to adhere to the ruling on Mondays," he said when tabling the 2011 Budget at the state legislative assembly yesterday.
Lim's two paragraph announcement on the wide-ranging plastic ban was buried inside his 27-page budget speech, apparently catching many by surprise.
To promote the "No Plastic Bag Day" ruling, the state will distribute 500,000 brochures to create public awareness besides erecting educational billboards.
On July 1, last year, Penang became the first state to implement a "No Plastic Bag Day" ruling in shopping complexes and hypermarkets every Monday, before it was extended to Tuesdays and Wednesdays as well from Jan 2.
From July 1, 2009 to Oct 28, a total of 32.5 million plastic bags were saved under this campaign.
Shoppers who did not bring their own reusable bags were charged 20 sen for each plastic bag when making purchases.
The money collected from the sale of plastic bags went to the "Partners Against Poverty" Special Fund to help the state's hardcore poor.