Government to expand restrictions on plastic bag use

  • Date: 2017-07-20
  • Source: Department of Information Services, Executive Yuan

At the Cabinet’s weekly meeting today, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) reported on expanded measures for restricting plastic bag use in Taiwan, a move that Premier Lin Chuan said will considerably reduce the amount of plastic bags used each year and prompt consumers to join a new environmental movement to bring their own shopping bags.

Under the new measures, the current ban on providing customers with free plastic shopping bags will be extended from seven types of retailers to 14, adding pharmacies, medical equipment retailers, electronics stores, bookstores and stationery shops, dry cleaners, beverage shops, and bakeries. Certain retailers will instead sell government-issued garbage bags that can be also used as shopping bags. The EPA will also bring all plastic materials (including bioplastics) under regulation, and eliminate the requirement that store-sold shopping bags have minimum thickness of 0.06 millimeter. The expanded controls are expected to reduce plastic bag use by 1.5 billion each year.

Premier Lin said that the EPA began limiting plastic bag use in July 2002, and in the years since has continued to announce wider restrictions as authorized by Article 21 of the Waste Disposal Act. To minimize the public’s inconvenience in transitioning to the latest rules, which take effect January 1 next year, he asked the EPA to use the intervening time to step up publicity to consumers and local authorities, using all communication tools to lower public resistance and encourage citizens to support the cause for reducing plastic.

As an oceanic nation, Taiwan has a responsibility and obligation to do its part in the conservation of marine ecosystems, Premier Lin added. He commended the EPA for its longstanding efforts to reduce plastic waste in oceans as well as for cooperation with local environmental agencies that has curbed the amount of waste produced across Taiwan.

The EPA said that this year’s U.N.-designated World Oceans Day celebrates the theme “Our Oceans, Our Future,” with a conservation action focus of encouraging solutions to plastic pollution and preventing marine litter. Joining the U.N. and the world community in the campaign against plastic pollution in the oceans, Taiwan has implemented measures to cut the amount of single-use plastic products and promoted legislation to get consumers in the habit of bringing their own shopping bags, all of which have helped Taiwan achieve its waste reduction targets.