Thu, May 02, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Plastic straw ban to go into effect in July

STANDARDS:Even if plastic accounts for less than 10% of a straw’s weight, it would be banned, as paper straws have been developed that do not require a plastic coating

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

A woman holds up straws made from various materials at the Environmental Protection Administration in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Liu Li-jen, Taipei Times

A ban on giving single-use plastic straws in about 8,000 venues is to take effect from July, and is expected to reduce the number of plastic straws used by 100 million per year, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said yesterday.

After announcing a draft for the ban on June 8 last year, the agency held several public hearings to gather opinions and revised some of its content.

Starting from July, about 8,000 venues ranging from government agencies, public and private schools, department stores, shopping malls and fast-food chains would be prohibited from offering customers eating at the venues single-use plastic straws, EPA Deputy Minister Shen Chih-hsiu (沈志修) said.

Those purchasing takeaways would not be affected for the moment, he said, adding that the agency would evaluate how to limit the use of plastic straws in take-out orders in a year’s time.

Biodegradable straws with an EPA-certified logo and plastic straws attached to beverages during the manufacturing process would not be banned, Shen said.

Also banned are straws made of paper, sugarcane fiber or other eco-friendly materials that contain plastic, even if it accounts for less than 10 percent of their weight, he said.

The agency had not included such straws in the draft, as most paper-made lunchboxes contain a plastic layer for insulation that accounts for less than 10 percent of their weight, Department of Waste Management Director-General Lai Ying-ying (賴瑩瑩) said.

Over the past year, some developers have introduced paper straws without the plastic layer, so the agency considers it possible to ban those that contain plastic, she said.

Biodegradable straws refer to those made from polylactic acid, which decompose more easily than entirely plastic straws, Lai said.

Taiwanese use nearly 3 billion plastic straws per year, department senior technical specialist Lee Yi-hua (李宜樺) said.

From July, venues contravening the regulation would be warned, while repeat offenders would face a fine of NT$1,200 to NT$6,000 under the Waste Disposal Act (廢棄物清理法), he said.

From July next year, offenders would be fined without receiving a warning, he said.

Despite some disagreement about the proposed ban last year, it has triggered new commercial opportunities, as eco-friendlier straws continue to be launched and reusable straws are selling better online, Lee said.

The agency would put up notices on the doors of affected venues to remind consumers of the ban, department technical specialist Teng Pi-shin (鄧丕信) said.

McDonald’s Taiwan has said that it plans to implement its no-straw policy nationwide by the end of next month, and would be introducing a new lid to enable people to sip cold drinks without a straw.

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