With reusable plastic bag, Malaysian shoppers encouraged to limit waste

In effort to cut down on waste and single-use plastic, British supermarket group Tesco has launched reusable plastic bags with barcodes that give customers discounts on shopping every time they reuse the bag.

Toby Melville/Reuters/File
A Tesco supermarket in west London. Tesco has recently launched reusable plastic bags with barcodes in Malaysia that give customers discounts every time they reuse the bags in attempt to cut down on waste and single-use plastic.

British supermarket group Tesco has launched a scheme in Malaysia based on bags with barcodes, giving customers discounts on their shopping every time they reuse the bags.

The "unforgettable bag" was launched in 11 Tesco stores in Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur and the southern state of Johor on Tuesday in an effort to shift away from single-use plastic bags and reduce waste.

Azliza Baizura Azmel, a director at Tesco Malaysia, said 70 percent of customers have their own carrier bags but leave them in the car rather than bringing them into the store.

"That's why we thought of the idea of the unforgettable bag – it's a bit of a push for them," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The new bags will be sold for 0.50 ringgit ($0.13) each, and customers will get a free replacement if the bag is torn or damaged. Tesco will offer customers a cash rebate of 0.20 ringgit ($0.05) for every bag reused.

Each year between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags are used globally, according to industry estimates, with fewer than 10 percent recycled. Many end up in the world's oceans or dumped in landfill.

More than 8 million tonnes of plastics enter the ocean each year, and marine experts fear there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050, measured by weight.

Plastic degrades over time into tiny particles which are ingested by marine life, harming the food chain and environment.

In an attempt to cut down on waste and single-use plastic, many supermarkets around the world charge customers for plastic bags, promote reusable bags, and offer free recycling services.

Meanwhile, more than 40 countries have banned, partly banned, or taxed single-use plastic bags, including parts of Malaysia and India, China, France, Rwanda, Italy, and Kenya.

The "unforgettable bag" is made from a recyclable plastic that is more durable than conventional plastic bags, Tesco said, and sports a turtle, fish, or whale design to highlight the risks plastic waste poses to sea creatures.

The Tesco trial – the first of its kind by a major hypermarket in Malaysia – limits the bag discounts to two per transaction.

The scheme will be extended to all Tesco's 56 stores in Malaysia from June 1. If a success, the retailer hopes it will be adopted by other Tesco stores across Asia.

The barcoded bags are a starting point towards phasing out all plastic bags from Tesco shops in Malaysia, said Ms. Azmel.

Every Malaysian on average throws away 300 plastic bags a year, according to the Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association.

Von Hernandez, global coordinator of the Break Free From Plastic movement in Manila, welcomed the Tesco initiative but said governments and business in Asia needed to do more.

"We've seen governments – whether at city or national level – take action to restrict the use of single-use plastics," said Mr. Hernandez. "That has to be matched by the corporate sector."

"There is increasing momentum for similar restrictions in many parts of the world because this crisis is growing."

This story was reported by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to With reusable plastic bag, Malaysian shoppers encouraged to limit waste
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-Pacific/2018/0403/With-reusable-plastic-bag-Malaysian-shoppers-encouraged-to-limit-waste
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe