BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Over 50 businesses, including cafes and restaurants, have committed to stop providing single use plastics at least one day a month in a bid to reduce Brunei’s plastic waste.

The #zerowastebrunei campaign — spearheaded by local events company Big Bwn Project, with partners Laneige and Adxpert Marketing — is calling on other businesses to follow suit, with the aim of phasing out single-use plastics altogether.

Businesses taking part in the campaign will commit to not giving out single-use plastics on this day, including straws, plastic bags, plastic packaging and cutlery.

The frequency will be upped to twice a month, then once a week, and eventually daily, said Big Bwn Project founder Norhafizah Hj Rashid.

“There are many vendors selling reusable utensils but there is nobody actually trying to go out and create awareness on why it’s important to start using these reusable utensils,” she said.

General Manager of Laneige Brunei, Patricia Li, added that campaign organisers will also collect feedback from participating businesses, which will be reviewed and presented to the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation (JASTRe).  

“At the end of the day, we want to just educate people and to know that they have freedom of choice.” 

By 2024, Brunei will have to manage 4.5 million tonnes of waste — 16 percent of it plastic — with 400-500 tonnes of waste delivered to the Sungai Paku landfill everyday, according to statistics from JASTRe.

The #zerowastebrunei campaign leverages on the government’s existing efforts to curb plastic pollution, such as the phasing out of plastic bags at major supermarkets and move to ban styrofoam and plastic bag imports. 

JASTRe said since the introduction of the “No Plastic Bag” initiative, plastic bag use dropped by 77 percent at five major supermarkets.

Norhafizah acknowledged that there is a need for the #zerowastebrunei campaign to set a benchmark to see how effective it is over time.

The organisers expressed hope to see the water dispensers replace the distribution of bottled water during Brunei’s National Day celebration next year.

“The celebration will [help us gauge] how much plastic we use,” she said.

“We hope to see businesses continue with this campaign as we will be giving pledge stickers to participating outlets and we hope to see their progress in the next few months.”

“Since this is a voluntary initiative, we can only encourage and educate one another… Now that we are on board with JASTRe for this campaign and initiative, we can collaborate and reach out to more agencies to slowly reduce waste and head to a zero waste Brunei,” Norhafizah said.