Thu, Oct 04, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Taipei holding i-Vote on distributing free lanterns

WASTEFUL:A netizen has proposed that the city stop giving away free lanterns during the annual festival as they contribute to plastic trash and waste batteries

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The Taipei Department of Information and Tourism is encouraging city residents — from first grade elementary-school children to adults — to join an online poll to help decide whether the city government should continue giving out free handheld lanterns for the annual Taipei Lantern Festival.

Residents born before Sept. 1, 2012, can take part in the vote by filling in their national identification number and birth date on the i-Voting Web site — bit.ly/ivoting_lantern — before 5pm on Sunday next week.

Voters can also join a lottery draw, with mobile devices as prizes.

Since 1997, the city government has been giving out tens of thousands of lanterns designed to match the year’s Chinese zodiac sign to mark the lantern festival.

However, a netizen in September last year proposed on i-Voting that the city government “stop giving away free lanterns” to protect the environment.

The proposal was seconded by more than 3,000 people and passed the city government’s preliminary review on Nov. 22 last year.

While the free lanterns are adorable and well-liked, their Chinese zodiac motif limits their use, which lead to plastic trash and waste batteries with low recycle rates, the netizen said.

Moreover, with the city government taking the lead in giving out free lanterns, many companies, borough wardens and temples have followed suit, causing more seasonal trash, the netizen said.

A total of 200,000 free lanterns were produced last year and 140,000 this year at an average cost of NT$33, the department said.

The Taipei Department of Environmental Protection has also stepped up efforts to encourage battery recycling during the festival and 1,478.1kg of waste batteries were recycled during the festival this year.

Taipei Information and Tourism Commissioner Chen Su-yu (陳思宇) said that while the free Chinese zodiac lanterns help children mark the traditional holiday and have become a good childhood memory for many, the department would consider distributing fewer lanterns and choosing materials that are more environmentally friendly.

It is the first case the i-Voting online polling platform is to be used for residents to vote on a case proposed by a citizen, Chen said, adding that to honor the spirit of open government and civic participation, the tourism and information department encourages city residents to vote.

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