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USM bans polystyrene food containers

PENANG: Polystyrene food containers have been banned in Universiti Sains Malaysia's main campus here with immediate effect as part of its move to be green.

USM vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dzulkifli Abdul Razak said all the 32 cafeteria operators would stop using non-biodegradable styrofoam food containers as part of the university's green campaign.

“We have also prohibited the use of styrofoam and other form of polystyrene material,” he said after opening the Sejahtera Cafe at the campus here Monday.

“From now on, the cafeteria operators must use eco-friendly biodegradable containers made of oil palm waste instead of the harmful styrofoam,” he said.

A study carried out on Saturday showed that of the 7,000 food containers used in the campus daily, only 1,000 were biodegradable.

Prof Dzulkifli said the operators had agreed to absorb the cost, adding that the biodegradable containers cost about 20 sen each while styrofoam containers cost about three or four sen each. There would be no increase in food prices.

“We encourage students to eat in cafeteria using washable plates instead of opting for take-away,” he said.

Prof Dzulkifli said the ban on styrofoam would later be extended to the USM health campus in Kubang Kerian, Kelantan, and engineering campus in Nibong Tebal, Seberang Prai Selatan.

The initiative to stop the use of styrofoam was mooted by the students to promote a better future.

“All the 30,000 USM staff and students are the catalyst for the initiative,” he said.

During the function, “The White Coffin” signature campaign was launched for USM students and staff to pledge their commitment to support sustainable initiatives to reduce adverse impact on environment.

“We are also seriously conducting research to produce biodegradable plastics. Our aim is to eliminate all types of substances that are unfriendly towards Mother Nature,” Prof Dzulkifli said.

He said 25 students from Taiwan who visited USM recently had shown that a change in attitude and mindset was possible.

“The Taiwanese students brought with them reusable chopsticks and foldable containers. The students did not even have to use the plates provided during meals.

“The students washed the containers and chopsticks for subsequent use,” he added.

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