Mon, Oct 02, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan can be plastic-free in 10 years: EPA

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) Minister Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) yesterday called on business representatives to join the agency’s “painless reduction of plastics” campaign to make Taiwan “a plastic-free island” within 10 years.

“Starting from January next year, 80,000 stores will stop giving out plastic bags for free, which can reduce plastic bag consumption by about 1.5 billion bags per year,” Lee told a news conference outside the Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store (新光三越百貨) in Taipei’s Xinyi District (信義).

Although 1.5 billion is just one-10th of Taiwan’s annual plastic bag consumption, people could help the nation become plastic-free by cutting plastic bag use by 15 billion bags in a decade, he said.

Breeze Charity Foundation chief executive officer Chen Meei-ting (陳美汀) said Breeze Group (微風集團) replaced plastic bags with paper bags at its department stores across the nation 16 years ago.

The campaign’s spokesman, actor Kuo Tzu-chien (郭子乾), suggested that the EPA increase the price of plastic bags to NT$100 each to discourage their use, while Lee said NT$1 per bag was the bottom line.

The EPA will also ban the manufacturing and import of cosmetics and detergents that contain microplastic beads from next year, while their sale will be banned from July next year, Lee said.

Lee said the plastic bag reduction plan was admired when he explained it to people in New York and Washington late last month.

At the news conference, the EPA auctioned three pieces of wooden furniture salvaged from landfill sites.

Chen, Holy Yang (楊盛傑), who is a member of the Breeze Group, and Ecomax Textile Co (富勝紡織) chairman Mark Ke (柯漢哲) bought the furniture.

Expressing his support for the policy, Ke said that in the 1990s, Ecomax was the nation’s first company to develop a method to turn plastic bottles into textiles.

Developing recycled fiber has been “a long, difficult and solitary road,” but he is glad to see the government and public engage in plastic reduction, Ke said.

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