(file pix) Schools nationwide are encouraged to eliminate the usage of single-use plastics in line with the government’s roadmap to address plastic pollution towards creating a cleaner and healthier environment in Malaysia by 2030. NSTP/MOHAMAD SHAHRIL BADRI SAALI

SHAH ALAM: Schools nationwide are encouraged to eliminate the usage of single-use plastics in line with the government’s roadmap to address plastic pollution towards creating a cleaner and healthier environment in Malaysia by 2030.

Education Ministry school management division (education policy operations) deputy director Zulkernai Fauzi said schools and canteen operators should consider using suitable and sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics.

He, however, said it was crucial to first create awareness and educate the community, including schools and pupils on the damage discarded non-recyclable plastics could have on the environment.

“We advise canteen operators to refrain from using or providing single-use plastics at all schools.

“However, it may take some time to have a policy in place that prohibits schools (and canteen operators) from using (single-use) plastics such as plastic bags, food packaging containers, bottles, cups and straws.

“For now, it is more important to create an informed society. We will start doing this by educating schools and canteen operators.

“Students too must be aware of the severity of plastic pollution and its impact on the environment.

“So that even if they are offered plastic products, they will not use them,” he said after presenting awards to winners of the Toyota Eco Youth (TEY) programme (19th edition) at Concorde Hotel, here, today.

SMK Tamparuli, Sabah, emerged as the winner for their organic fertiliser project and received RM10,000, while SMK Toh Muda Abdul Aziz, Perak and Sri KDU Secondary School, Selangor, bagged the second (RM7,000) and third prize (RM5,000), respectively.

The fourth prize (RM3,000) went to SMK Tunku Kurshiah, Negri Sembilan. SMK Yong Peng, Johor came in fifth (RM1,000) and also bagged the best video presentation award (RM500).

Zulkernai said it was vital for everyone to be proactive in handling environmental issues and to take charge of our carbon footprint by being conscious of our consumption of electricity, chemical and use of fossil fuel and at the same time preserve our greenery.

The ministry, he said, believed that educating students from young was crucial.

“Many curriculum and policies that we developed gives emphasis on raising well-balanced individuals who are knowledgeable, ethical, skilful and responsible.

“The curriculum also aims to impart higher thinking skills rather than just learning.”

He commended Toyota for organising the programme since 2001 as apart from learning about the environment, students were also exposed to analytical and research skills.

The TEY programme is jointly organised by UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd and the Education Ministry to educate Malaysian youth on the importance of conserving the environment and also inspire them to act responsibly towards the environment, ensuring a sustainable future.