Mon, Dec 18, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Many support EPA ban on throw-away utensils

REDUCING WASTE While a small number of those surveyed take their own chopsticks to restaurants, a majority still supported limits on disposable ones

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

A recent survey conducted by the Environmental Protection Admin-istration (EPA) showed that only 20 percent of the population reported that they frequently brought along non-disposable utensils to dine out.

The survey indicated that another 85 percent said that they supported the government policy of banning the use of disposable utensils in school cafeterias as well as restaurants for government organizations.

Beginning in July, the administration banned cafeterias located in government organizations from providing disposable utensils for dine-in customers. The ban extends to bowls, chopsticks, plates and spoons.

In September, school cafeterias were required to follow the same regulation.

On the issue of limiting plastic bag consumption, more than 60 percent of the nation's population welcomed the administration's decision to allow food service operators to begin providing free plastic bags to customers.

The administration began to restrict the use of plastic bags in 2003.

The ban prevented the owners of department stores, shopping malls, hypermarkets, convenience stores, fast food restaurants and regular restaurants from providing free plastic bags to their customers.

A customer must pay NT$1 to NT$2 for a bag.

This year, however, the administration decided to begin allowing free plastic bags to be offered by food service operators.

The administration made the decision because of concerns that plastic bags used for food or soup could pose a health risk if they were reused.

The survey revealed other significant findings.

Approximately 77 percent of respondents said they had cut back on the use of plastic bags.

Close to 72 percent said that they regularly carried used plastic bags with them when they shooped in hypermarkets or in supermarkets.

Only 43.4 percent said they brought their own plastic bags to convenience stores.

About 40 percent said they did not ask for bags when making purchases at convenience stores.

The survey also found that about 45 percent of respondents had continued not to consume plastic bags, even after the ban on those offered by restaurants was lifted.

"This is indeed an improvement," a statement issued by the EPA said, "given that only 18 percent reported carrying their own plastic bags before the policy was officially implemented five years ago."

Sixty-eight percent of the population said that they supported the government's decision to continue restricting the use of plastic bags.

Regarding the use of reusable utensils, a cross analysis of the survey found that women from 45 to 59 years of age who had earned college degrees reported carrying their own utensils most often.

Among frequent carriers of non-disposable utensils, 96.2 percent said that they carried chopsticks, whereas 55.2 percent carried spoons.

The EPA's telephone survey was conducted between Nov. 14 and Nov. 17.

It targeted consumers 18 years of age or above in 23 cities and counties nationwide.

It included 1,104 participants and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

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