Wed, May 28, 2003 - Page 2 News List

EPA gets tough on late payments

By Chiu Yu-tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Environmental Protection Agency said it stepping up its crack down on manufactures of recyclable materials who fail to pay outstanding recycling fees.

EPA statistics revealed yesterday showed that the administration has yet to recoup more than half of its recycling fees -- a tax levied by the government to cover the cost of recycling payments -- incurred by companies who have been caught falsely declaring real output.

According to the EPA's Recycling Management Foundation, in the last two years, one quarter of the nation's designated recycling manufactures, or 1,120 companies, failed to declare real output, evading payments of NT$983.55 million.

Officials said that only 802 companies cooperated with the EPA, stumping up NT$413.79 million, or 42 percent of unpaid recycling fees. Fifty-nine companies requested to pay NT$202.87 million in installments.

"We've notified the Ministry of Justice," said Yu Yung-chiech (尤泳智), executive secretary of the foundation. "Agencies have taken legal action to force the remaining 64 companies to pay the outstanding NT$292.85 million."

According to Yu, the worst-performing manufacturers were manufacturers of drinks bottles and food containers.

Taking a bankrupted manufacturer of water bottles in Kaohsiung as an example, Yu said that the company still owes the EPA NT$69.64 million. Other companies owe more than NT$10 million, Yu said.

The rate of exposing manufacturers who fail to correctly declare output increased to 58 percent last year compared to 35 percent in 1999.

Yu said that the EPA would further increase this rate by adopting stricter inspection measures. The EPA will estimate real output based on companies' utility bills, Yu added.

To tackle the problem of false declarations of output, Yu said the EPA has shared its information with the tax authorities. So far 292 companies have been fined for evasion of taxes.

Yu also urged residents to report manufacturers of recyclable goods suspected of falsely declaring output. He said rewards ranging from NT$2,000 to NT$200,000 were available.

The unpaid recycling fees will do little to alleviate the recycling foundation's dire financial straits.

Over the last 11 years, it has incurred losses of NT$2.2 from the recycling of PET bottles alone.

In 1992, the EPA started promoting the recycling of PET bottles by offering NT$2 for each bottle returned for recycling.

At the time, the recycling rate was about 80 percent. In 1997, the reward was reduced to NT$1 to offset costs.

In April 2000, the reward was reduced to NT$0.5. The reward system finally ended on June 1 last year.

Environmentalists have blasted the EPA over its recycling policies, arguing that economic incentives still play a key role in promoting the recycling of plastic.

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