CM: Indiscriminate disposal of face masks, PPEs could lead to major environmental impact

Abang Johari delivering his speech during the 9th CMEA 2019/2020 award presentation ceremony at a hotel today. Screenshot taken from Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas) live streaming today (Sep 13, 2021).

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KUCHING, Sept 13: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has expressed concern over the disposal of face mask and personal protective equipment (PPE) which could lead to major environmental impact in Sarawak.

As such, he reminded the public of the dangers posed by the indiscriminate disposal of PPEs.

“While pandemic situation has improved the air quality and reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emission in different cities around the world in 2020, including the lessening of water pollution, there are also negative consequences of Covid-19 towards the environment.

“For health and sanitary purposes, the increase use of PPEs such as face masks, hand gloves, hand sanitizers and disinfectants have become a major threat to public health and environment.

“Estimation is that at 80 per cent face masks acceptance rate and 27 per cent urban populations suggested that Malaysia may produce 7.05 million total daily used face masks for its 32.4 million population, whilst Sarawak may produce 628,000 daily used face masks for its 2.9 million population.

“If these PPEs are not properly disposed of, they would lead to major environmental impact.

“Wind or rain water may deposit the used PPEs into our streams or rivers and thus, also polluting the rivers with the deadly virus that could possibly re-infect us,” he said in his speech during the 9th Chief Minister’s Environmental Award (CMEA) 2019/2020 award presentation ceremony at a hotel here today.

Abang Johari said the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government under his leadership is committed to strike a balance between the need for development and safeguarding the well-being of the people as part of sustainable development.

He pointed out that the post Covid-19 Development Strategy (PCDS 2030) which he launched earlier on July 22 aimed at prospering the State and the people whilst simultaneously protecting the environment and stay true to sustainable development.

Abang Johari who is also Finance and Economic Planning Minister said that the Sarawak government’s emphasis on environmental sustainability is to pave for more investment flow into Sarawak that will create more jobs and business opportunities to drive the State’s economy in a sustainable manner.

On the CMEA, he outlined that it is an important avenue for industries, businesses, local authorities and individuals to demonstrate their corporate environmental responsibility through their organisational green initiatives in reducing carbon footprints in their production processes and operations.

“The exemplary effort of the award winners should show the way forward as to the future direction of our State in ‘going green’ to protect the environment and creating an ecosystem conducive for sustainable development.

“The business and industrial sectors are the principal sources of investment and driver of economic growth in the State and this award presents an opportunity for public recognition in environmental conservation and leadership.

“Entrepreneurs and the corporate sector should regard this biennial CMEA as the beginning of their long journey towards self-regulation in environmental compliance and management,” he added.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, Utilities Minister Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Assistant Minister of Urban Development and Resources Datu Len Talif Salleh, Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports Datuk Snowdan Lawan, Sarawak Business Federation (SBF) deputy president Datuk Philip Ting, Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) Controller Peggy Ronin Edin were among those present at the event. — DayakDaily