Wed, Jan 03, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Inspections find 16 stores breaching plastic bag ban

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

An employee at a Taipei outlet of supermarket chain Pxmart on Monday holds up “dual purpose” environmentally friendly bags which are designed to be used as both a shopping bag and a garbage bag.

Photo: Chou Yen-yu, Taipei Times

As a ban on free plastic bags was extended to an additional 80,000 businesses this year, local environmental protection agencies on Monday inspected a total of 10,800 stores, with 11 in Kaohsiung and five in Chiayi County receiving warnings.

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) on Aug. 15 last year announced that the ban on free plastic bags would be extended from seven to 14 types of businesses this year: firms that sell cosmetics, medical devices, electronics, beverages, pastries, and books and stationery, as well as dry cleaners.

Businesses found offering free plastic bags are to receive a warning for a first breach of the ban and face fines of between NT$1,200 and NT$6,000 for every infraction afterward, the agency said.

Local environmental agencies on Monday began to inspect businesses added to the ban, with beverage and cosmetics stores found to be the biggest offenders.

The Taipei Department of Environmental Protection inspected 1,233 stores — about 10 percent of the newly regulated stores in the city — and found no infractions, Waste Treatment Division head Tsui Hao-chih (崔浩志) said yesterday.

One beverage store reported selling only eight plastic bags for 100 cups of drinks, Tsui said, adding that businesses have been willing to cooperate with the policy.

The Kaohsiung Environmental Protection Bureau on Monday inspected 8,503 stores — of which 2,723 were beverage stores and 1,965 were cosmetics suppliers and pharmacies — and issued 11 warnings.

Most of those warned were beverage stores that did not post an announcement about the ban, bureau section head Kung Hsiang-hsin (孔祥鑫) said yesterday, adding that store owners were willing to make improvements after receiving a warning.

The Chiayi County Environmental Protection Bureau on Monday inspected 100 stores, of which five received warnings — three beverage stores and two pharmacies, an official said on condition of anonymity.

The Tainan Environmental Protection Bureau received a few complaints of beverage stores forcing customers to pay for delivery bags, said another official, on condition of anonymity, adding that stores would be asked to prepare reusable bags for delivery services.

The packaging for bread and cake was a contentious subject, with local media reporting that some bakeries demanded that customers pay for it or be forced to take baked goods in their “naked” state.

The first layer of packaging covering raw and fresh food, such as vegetables and bread, is not included in the ban, EPA Department of Waste Management Interim Director-General Lai Ying-ying (賴瑩瑩) said yesterday, adding that it is plastic shopping bags that cannot be provided for free.

Some businesses might be unfamiliar with the new policy, while some might attempt to profit from the ban, she said.

The environmental agencies of New Taipei City, Taoyuan, Taichung and Tainan on Monday inspected a total of 659 stores and found no infractions.

The agencies said they would reduce the frequency of inspections over the next few weeks.

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