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COMMUNITY PROBLEM SOLVING PROJECT

Project D: Food Packaging in Brunei By students: Christina Eu Nguk Ling, Hjh Siti Nor Faezah Bte Hj Abd Rahman, Noor Aliham Bin Hj Muhamad and Kasnol Bin Hj Muhammad Kincho Problems: Plastic and polystyrene food packaging are used to a high extent in various events. Polystyrene food packaging cannot be recycled due to food contamination. The migration of plasticizers (DEHA) from PVC cling wraps and the styrene molecule from polystyrene has been linked to cancer. Bisphenol A from polycarbonate bottles has been found to cause genetic defects, e.g. miscarriages and Down Syndrome. The slow decomposition rate and limited recycling possibility of plastic food packaging has resulted in limited landfill space. The production of plastic and polystyrene also involves the production of chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs (which cause ozone depletion) and non-sustainable byproducts of crude oil refinement.

Figure 1. Food in a polystyrene container covered by cling wrap.

Figure 2. Rows of polystyrene containers containing food.

Figure 3. Polystyrene and Polypropylene containers containing food.

Figure 4. Polycarbonate bottles.

COMMUNITY PROBLEM SOLVING PROJECT

Possible solutions: The public could be educated on the importance of the ‘3Rs’ (reduce, reuse, recycle) through the use of media such as the newspaper, radio and television. The public could be encouraged to use alternative food packaging, e.g. stainless steel tiffin carriers. Restaurants and food vendors could be encouraged to develop alternative food packaging and asked to recommend the packaging to their customers; this would make it much easier for the public to accept alternative food packaging. Rules and regulations on food packaging by restaurants and food vendors could be imposed.

Figure 5. Tiffin carrier. Actions taken: A brochure prototype was designed, which was attached to letters that were sent to several government departments for public education on food packaging. A letter was sent to the local newspaper’s opinion page regarding the problems of using plastic and polystyrene food packaging and suggestions on what can be done for a better and healthy lifestyle. It was suggested to the Ministry of Education that schools use alternatives to plastic food packaging and that students should be encouraged to bring their own food containers and to encourage recycling of plastics. The university cafeteria and student council were met with and negotiations took place regarding the change of food packaging practices. The Department of Environment was asked to propose an act and/or regulations on controlling the use of plastic food packaging in restaurants and food vendors.

COMMUNITY PROBLEM SOLVING PROJECT

Figure 6. Published article in The Brunei Times (dated 20th October 2006 on page 4) regarding the fact of plastic and polyester.

COMMUNITY PROBLEM SOLVING PROJECT

Figure 7. Brochure made by the students to promote awareness of using proper food packaging.