Government, schools cut back on paper cups by 90 percent


Mon, Feb 23, 2009 - Page 2

Government agencies and public schools last year reduced usage of paper cups by 90 percent compared with figures from 2006, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said yesterday, adding that people should also seek to cut back on their usage of disposable utensils.

“The EPA implemented the ‘government agencies and public school paper cup reduction plan’ in July 2007 with the goal of reducing paper cups used in these establishments by 50 percent last year,” Solid Waste Control Department director-general Ho Soong-chin (何舜琴) said.

The goal, however, was surpassed.

“Statistics show that in 2008 the number of these disposable cups purchased by agencies dropped by 90 percent from 2006 figures,” Ho said.

Athough the plan was merely an advisory measure and not a law, compliance from agencies has been high, Ho said.

“To cut back on people’s usage of disposable cups, we advised agencies to limit the locations where paper cups could be used. We also set annual target reductions,” Ho said.

Following implementation, government agencies and public schools were encouraged to refrain from providing paper cups, plastic cups or bottled water during internal meetings, or placing them in areas open to the public, such as in reception rooms, Ho said.

“We aimed for a 50 percent to 75 percent reduction for 2008 and 2009 respectively,” she said.

With these seemingly simple cutbacks, the paper cup reduction plan has been extremely successful, Ho said.

“The number of paper cups purchased by government agencies in 2008 was 3.71 million, compared with 37.8 million in 2006. If each paper cup weighs 8g, we have successfully eliminated 273 tonnes of paper waste,” Ho said.

The EPA called on people to also cut their usage of disposable utensils.

“[Considering the numbers], people are encouraged to bring their own eating utensils when they eat out so that all types of disposable utensils can be reduced,” she said.