By : REBECCA CHONG
PLASTIC bags are among major contributors to pollution in Kota Kinabalu City, according to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Masidi Manjun. "We are blessed with beauty of nature that few other cities possess, and yet we do not look after it." He particularly abhors the way Sabahans have the habit of throwing plastic bags in the drains and waterways, which pollute the sea.
But on a more optimistic note he said, "I believe that we can change, and by changing, we will become better."
Plastic bags take 200-1000 years to degrade, which are a major woe to the environment globally.
The search for an alternative to plastic has gained momentum in recent years. One company in Sabah has been in the forefront of the effort.
The Maribumi Group Sabah has come up with an alternative to the plastic bags that we use everyday. They call it the "Zero Plastic products".
The company has pioneered the production of a new generation of cost-effective biopolymers, and has gone for mass production in Sabah.
Zero Plastics, or starch bags are bags made of either tapioca or corn starch combined with other organic ingredients. They are capable of breaking down in a cleaner way, without compromising quality and safety.
They are a cleaner alternative to petroleum-based plastics because of their 100% biodegradable properties. They also have significantly less adverse impact on the environment than plastic materials, taking only 100-120 days to decompose completely.
Datuk Masidi Manjun has high hopes that the new product will hold its own as an alternative to plastic bags. "I see how Sabahans are willing to pay 20 cents for a plastic bag and I believe they will accept the new Zero Plastics well," he said. "Last year alone, we collected over RM 217,000 from the 20-cent plastic bags that Sabahans are willing to pay. This money is going to be used on environmental projects."
Masidi also said that he hoped the local authorities and companies should consider switching from plastic bags to the Zero Plastic products.
Maribumi Group Managing Director, Mr. M. R. Sivagiri was upbeat about the new product. He said, "we are confident that our product would be accepted well in Sabah especially considering that the state puts such a high premium on the environment, being as it is a premier tourist destination in Malaysia."
MB Enviro-Healers, the newly appointed distributor of Zero Plastic, headed by Mohammad Iskandar Shah Ali expressed great optimism that the Zero Plastic bags would be a hit among people who are environmentally conscious, and companies that wish to contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable environment. -Insight Sabah