Mon, Nov 20, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Unrecyclable plastic ban could face delay

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The policy of the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) prohibiting the use of plastic containers and trays for eggs, produce and pastries may face another delay as environmentalists, retailers and representatives for the plastic industry said the policy needed to be suspended.

Last month, the administration announced that it would begin enforcing the policy next month.

"This is the wrong policy," said Chang Feng-chih (張豐志), a professor of applied chemistry at National Chiao Tung University, at a public hearing held on Friday.

The hearing was hosted by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英).

"The EPA has never considered if a policy would be viable before they executed it," Chang said.

Liou Ming-long (劉銘龍), chairman of the Environmental Quality Protection Foundation, criticized the policy, saying it has deviated from its original legislative purpose.

"The purpose should be to limit the use of non-recyclable plastic packaging materials, rather than limiting the use of plastic or even plastic bags," Liou said.

Liou said a similar policy in South Korea only forbids restaurants that are larger than 45 pings from using plastic utensils because they should be capable of installing large dish-washing facilities, rather than forbidding all retailers to provide plastic products.

Some at the event suggested the government had failed to consider the policy's impact on other industries.

Chang Yuan (張媛), a representative from the Council of Agriculture, said egg farmers had complained to the council that their already meager profits would suffer further, since the policy would require additional expenditures for packaging materials.

Chang said that the EPA drafted the policy without first seeking a consensus from other government departments.

Ho Soong-chin (何舜琴), director general of the EPA's Solid Waste Control Bureau, said the government sought both to curtail the consumption of plastic packaging and to improve the recycling rate of plastic materials.

The EPA announced last year that the use of plastic containers made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polystyrene (PS), polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) would be banned starting in February.

Since these plastic containers are easily contaminated by residues left by the products they contain, often making them unrecyclable, the administration decided to ban their use completely.

If enforced, the policy will apply to government organizations, department stores, shopping malls, hypermarkets, mid-size supermarkets, retail chain stores and fast food restaurants.

To replace the banned materials, the EPA said it would permit the use of containers made of biodegradable materials like polylactic acid, paper or bamboo.

The administration decided, however, to postpone the implementation of the policy as it failed to secure support from the private sector.

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