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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Plastic Bag Is Evil !!!

One million plastic bags are used and thrown away every minute around the world, according to environmental experts. Worldwide between 500 billion and one trillion of them go into landfill, rivers, seas and oceans. Countries have begun to control the use of plastics which are blamed for a host of environmental and health problems. And Sabah has started an anti-plastic campaign that discourages the use of plastic shopping bags on Mondays in Kota Kinabalu capital.

About 150 tonnes of plastic are used every day in Kota Kinabalu, says Yabi Yangkat, director of environment of the Envrionmental Protection Department. Almost a third of these are plastic shopping bags and Styrofoam food containers. They clog drains that breed disease-carrying pests such as mosquitoes, cockroaches, flies and rats, and cause floods.

“Most of this rubbish clogs our drains,” Yangkat tells Insight Sabah. “If there is heavy rain for two or five hours, many parts of the city and its outskirts will be flooded.” In landfill, plastics take 1,000 years to break up. Experts say plastics are not bio-degradable even those that claim to be. What happens to them is a process known as photodegradation that breaks them up into succeedingly smaller particles that leach toxic chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA) into the soil and water which then contaminate our food. BPA is blamed for a host of illnesses from brain damage in infants and very young children, to endocrine disorders, most cancers such as breast and prostate cancers, diabetes, sexual, reproductive and heart diseases.
Although statistics are not available in Sabah, health experts notice a marked increase of cancers and heart diseases affecting many young people. They are unable to say whether BPA from plastic is to blame.

Environmentalists are concerned over plastic trash in oceans. It kills hundreds of marine mammals which eat plastic bags, mistaking them for food. A study two years ago by Charles Moor, an oceanographer and chemist of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, found that about 44% of all seabirds ate plastic by mistake. And 267 marine species swallowed plastic bags which looked like jellyfish in mid-ocean.
Scientists and health experts are alarmed by recent findings that plastics in ocean decompose very much faster than they have been thought. Researchers say their study has shown that degrading plastics are leaching toxic chemicals such as bisphenol A into the seas, possibly threatening ocean animals and people, according to a report in the National Geographic.

Yangkat says his department thought of reducing the use of plastics last year. “We started the no plastic campaign then,” he says. “But the response from shopping complexes was poor.” The campaign has taken off this year because Kota Kinabalu City Hall is involved in it. “They are the licensing authority,” he says.
On June 7, Masidi Manjun, minister of tourism, culture and environment, launched the “No plastic bags on Mondays” campaign and another to make Tanjung Aru town, about 10km from Kota Kinabalu city, a “Green Town without Litter”.

Yangkat says his department has installed five rubbish traps in three rivers in Sembulan and two in Likas to keep them clean and remove plastics from them. They cost 120,000 ringgit ($37,000) each. Two more will be installed in the city soon. City hall workers clear rubbish from the traps every day.
“We spend about 400,000 ringgit every year on our environmental projects,” he says.

 taken from : http://insightsabah.gov.my/article/read/515

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