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3 reasons, why Zero Waste Stores struggles in Penang?

What is Zero Waste?

Zero waste is a practice and a culture that creates no trash at att when one consumer or buys something from a merchant.

Today's there is so much trash in the landfill and the number has been expected to rise from year to year as the pollution grows and also the demand for goods.

In Penang,810,300 metric tons of waste is generated every year in the Pulay Burung landfill with a population that is close to 2 million. That's crazy! The landfill as well is expected to last us until 2030-2035. So what happens when it is full? DO we need to find new land to build up a new landfill? A landfill does not bring any good value to society except, taking in the waste we produce daily.

Hence, to prolong the lifespan of our landfills, we must reduce our waste. We must begin to adopt the 5R's. Reduce, Reuse, Rethink, Repair, and Recycle. Sadly, less than 80% of Penang lang carry out this practice. If we have more people doing it, we won't have 2220 tons of waste daily.

In today's world, most waste can be recycled or prevented if we put in the effort to segregate our waste or provide long-lasting solutions. So, that's why I am sharing with you our findings based on public perception on the reason, why Zero Waste Stores struggle in Penang?

1) Bring Your Own Container and Bring Your Own Bottle is not heavily practiced in Penang.

Now, I want you to observe the next time you are out to buy food at kopitiam. How many people do actually bring their own tiffin carrier or bottle to tapao their orders? You will be shocked to see 1/10 people that does it. How is this going to help Penang achieve its green status? What is the state or city council doing to encourage more people to start learning to bring their own container or bottle? Does a billboard at the bus stand help to remind people? We should have gone straight to the coffee shops, restaurants, and other F&B traders to put up posters to remind people to do so the next time they are there.

Now, do you understand why Zero Waste store struggles? If people don't give a damn on BYOC/BYOC, they will not even bother to shop at Zero Waste stores because those who visit them are eco-minded people. SO, the more eco-minded people we have in Penang, the better it is for Zero Waste stores because more people will want to support the green initiative they provide.

Here are some pics for you that Green Hero wants to help Penang become greener with BYOC/BYOB practice.

If you will like to be part of this team and distribute such posters to your local community, drop us an email to with the subject: BYOC/BYOB

2) Zero Wast stores are pricey

Penangites love things that are cheap and good. They will always ask for discounts and will further bargain from you before finalizing their decision if you are worthy.

Hence, that is why whenever there is some crazy promo or sales that are made by any parties especially when it comes to food & drinks , there will be a long queue.

Nevertheless, the same cannot happen at Zero Waste Stores. Zero Waste Store, they don't have big bargaining power to reduce the cost of goods that needs to be sold at their store. If we talk about those supermarkets like AEON, Jaya Grocer, Cold Storage, and many more, most of the goods they sold are 0.50 cents -RM2 cheaper than what you can get at Zero Waste stores for 1 kg item or less. That's why the slight in price difference pushes many to shop at other places rather than in their shop. However, they are some eco-minded people don't mind paying for the price difference because they are in for the environment and support business that makes a green difference.

That's the difference between a person who is eco-minded and isn't.

3) They don't do enough digital marketing.

Have you seen any ads recently by a Zero Waste Stores on social media? I asked around about their thoughts on doing digital marketing. Most of them don't have the skills they do it. Some did run FB ads in the past but didn't get the result they wanted and finds it not worthwhile. Some leh, found FB ads to be expensive.

As you can see from the reason above, the less coverage these Zero Waste Stores in Penang are indirectly affecting their business in the long run. Their overhead cost will be so high that they will have more debt than profit in times to come and will soon force to close after 3- 4 years. An average lifespan of a Zero Waste Store in Penang is 3.5 years. All of them have died in the past in less than 3 years or have been acquired by someone else who has new capital to continue running such practice in Penang.

You know, there is a saying that says " If you're not good at something, learn from others or hire someone who is better than you do the job". Sadly, the bad experience they had previously with digital marketing made them have less confidence towards digital marketers.

No wonder, so few people know about their existence and the solution they have to provide to Penang lang to reduce single-use plastic and trash that often ends up in the landfill.

My only wish for them is that they are able to think bigger and start doing some community outreach to reach out to people instead of waiting for people to come to the. The Zero Waste Stores owner in Penang needs to create a Zero Waste culture to create more eco-minded community. If we can't create more eco-minded people in the next 3 years, we will see another cycle of Zero Waste stores that will close again or hopefully acquire by someone new and this is not good for the future business owner who wants to dive into such concept.

So, go out there and raise awareness about Zero Waste, Let's give a reason why people should buy from you rather than those giant corporates? Give them a 'WHY' you are different as compared to the rest. You will need to convince them that your products are similar to those big brands out there but the only difference is that it does not come with plastic but we expect you to bring your own container to buy from us and refill the next time. Let's use a story to touch hearts and change their mind to be greener . It is time to work harder and smarter for the sake to create more eco-minded people so that we can see more traffic to Zero Waste Stores . Temworks makes the dreamworks.

Green Hero on the other hand will help Zero Waste Store by doing what it can in power to create more Green Heroes to start practicing BYOC/BYOB whenever they are out to buy food or drinks from any F&B. It is time to build this practice and inspire others to do so in the next 3 years if we want to see an increase in recycling rate in Penang by another 10% and also to reduce our year trash by 15%. Can we do it?

Yes, we can ! We just need at least 100k Penang lang both in island and mainland to practice BYOC & BYOB to start seeing a significant change in our data that is usually shared by MBPP yearly. Together, let's become the change that we wish to see for Penang and Zero Waste Stores. Let's help them by creating more eco-minded people. Let's create more people in adopting BYOC & BYOB! Boleh?


( If you will like to be part of this team and distribute such posters to your local community, drop us an email to with the subject: BYOC/BYOB )

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