Fri, Nov 15, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Lee trashes Ma on city's garbage bags

GREEN SCHEME The DPP mayoral candidate says halving the cost of the bags would help boost the city's recycling rates

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

DPP Taipei mayoral candidate Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) yesterday vowed to boost recycling by halving the price of trash bags -- and was quickly criticized by Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) for lacking professional knowledge.

Lee visited traditional markets in the city yesterday as part of his campaign activities.

"Let's halve the price of the trash bags, how about that?" Lee asked shoppers and venders at Shetze Market (社子市場).

Most people at the market seemed to welcome Lee's idea.

Lee said that since Taipei implemented the Per Bag Trash Collection Fee Policy on July 1, 2000, a four-person family would have spent an average of NT$200 a month buying trash bags. Some families spend more than NT$1000 on them, Lee said, adding that the figures were based on his camp's

estimates.

The city government set a price of NT$0.5 per liter of the bags.

Lee said that many of his supporters have complained about the high price of the bags.

"The high price has created a market for fake bags," Lee added.

According to Lee's camp, the city has earned NT$800 million a year selling the bags. It says that on average, the bags account for some 900 tonnes of daily household waste -- which is far short of the 1,500 tonnes of waste treated daily at incinerators.

Lee attributed the gap of 600 tonnes to the use of fake bags.

Lee promised to halve the price of the trash bags within one week of taking office in order to encourage a higher recycling rate.

Taipei's recycling rate stands at 7.21 percent a year, creating NT$100 million in revenues.

Lee said that about 840 tonnes to 960 tonnes a day of household waste could be eliminated by doubling the recycling rate and promoting collection of food waste.

"That would allow us, on a rotational basis, to shutdown a municipal incinerator to reduce operating costs," Lee said.

Ma rejected Lee's criticism, saying the bags were an ideal tool to not only reduce the amount of waste but also increase the recycling rate.

"Policies should be formed based on professional knowledge rather than intentions to exchange irresponsible political platforms for voters' ballots," Ma said.

Stephen Shen (沈世宏), director of the city's Bureau of Environmental Protection, stressed yesterday that the price of the bags should not be arbitrarily lowered.

"The production of the trash bags should be based on economic incentives," Shen said.

He said the total household waste in October was about 60 percent of what it was before the bag policy was imposed, showing the success of the city government.

"Our policies will make residents consume fewer bags because food waste, which accounts for about 20 percent to 30 percent of household waste, will be collected for free," Shen said.

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