Industry representatives yesterday recommended implementing a small charge for disposable cups, similar to that for plastic bags, as the government considers strategies for phasing out single-use containers.
They made the suggestion at a discussion convened by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) to gather feedback to inform future rules regulating single-use cups.
The agency has said that a ban on polystyrene cups is likely to be imposed in July, with the eventual aim of phasing out all disposable cups.
Photo: Lo Chi, Taipei Times
To move toward this goal, it is encouraging businesses to offer reusable cups for free and plans to mandate a NT$5 discount to customers who bring their own cups.
At yesterday’s discussion, representatives from beverage chains and fast-food restaurants said that any future policy should not include fines on operators.
Reusable cups, as defined by the EPA, include those brought by customers, rented cups and dine-in cups, a representative from McDonalds said.
Restaurants typically loan tableware to customers dining in, but if they are to be allowed to take cups with them outside of the restaurant, more clear guidelines are needed, representatives said.
Asked whether collecting deposits for rented cups would still count as offering a free service, the EPA said that the goal of the regulation is to prohibit additional usage charges, so charging deposits would not be prohibited.
There is room for businesses to set their own deposit amounts, considering their different operational needs, it added.
However, the agency dismissed a request from Uni-President Enterprises to limit customers from renting a cup from one store to buy a drink at another, saying that it would help to reduce waste and should therefore not be prohibited.
Other representatives said that consumers, rather than businesses, should bear the fine for using disposable containers, just as they must pay for a bag rather than requiring a store to provide a reusable one.
Cups and bags are different, the EPA said, asking how a customer can purchase a drink without a cup.
Besides, the price of a cup is already factored into the price of the drink, the EPA added, urging businesses to exercise corporate social responsibility.
Greenpeace in September last year began a trial cup rental program at 15 stores in Taichung.
After four months, the environmental group said it found that consumers were happy to reduce plastic waste and willing to adopt reusable cups.
The cup return rate was 98.5 percent, showing that “consumers are actually ready” to adopt the system, it said, adding that businesses have a responsibility to provide an eco-friendly option for their customers.
The EPA said it would take all of yesterday’s suggestions into account when drafting regulations.
Environmental groups, cup manufacturers and recyclers would be invited to the remaining three discussion sessions, in addition to beverage chains and convenience store operators, it added.
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