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9 DEC 2020

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government has formulated an action plan based on sustainable development principles to ensure the state's Policy on the Environment 2017, is implemented effectively, said Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai.

He said the action plan emphasised, among others, on the pertinent need to address waste management including single-use plastic issues as it is one of the key challenges the state facing now.

“Single-use plastic issue is one of the key challenges we face in Sabah. Although quantitative data is lacking on the use of single-use plastic in this state, this problem is apparent in many places. “This issue could be attributed to public apathy. When the public lacks the concern in managing waste properly and solely depending on the government to solve it, the problem will remain,” he said in a statement today.

Joniston said the state government through its ministry was also taking steps to promote environmental education programmes in schools and communities to create awareness on the impacts of single-use plastics and actions that can be taken to reduce waste in line with the Sabah Environmental Education Policy.

He said the schools involved had also been actively reducing the use of single-use plastics in their activities and implementing 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). In fact, he said some of these schools have received national and international recognition of their efforts in environmental education.

Joniston said various government agencies and non-governmental organisation (NGOs) have been working together through the Sabah Environmental Education Network (SEEN) to implement education programmes related to single-use plastic at all levels of society.

“The state government would always support NGOs campaigns to raise awareness about the importance of protecting the environment; and the government, businesses and individuals’ collective ways that could change consumer behaviour to stop plastic pollution reaching the environment and ocean.

“Education, awareness and spreading the good word, starting with youth is absolutely key,” he said, adding that, the state government has issued a circular in November last year for all government ministries, departments and agencies as a start of an initiative to avoid or reduce the use of single-use plastics.

Meanwhile, Joniston said his ministry would continue to intensify strategies and efforts to curb the issue by conducting a study on the status of single-use plastic usage and its alternatives in Sabah, and as it will involve many government and non-government stakeholders, the ministry has applied for the required budget.

“We recognise the plastic pollution problem in Sabah will only be solved if we all change our behaviours and stop using single-use-plastic and treat our plastic with more respect and what plastic we do use is recycled and doesn’t go into the environment,” he said. - Bernama

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