Majority backs planned phasing out of plastic straws: EPA

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TAIPEI (CNA) – The majority of people in Taiwan support the government’s plan to phase out the use of plastic straws over the next 12 years, as part of an effort to protect the environment, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said today.

Citing the results of a public opinion poll conducted by phone last November, the EPA said 76 percent of the Taiwan public backs the policy, while only 3.9 percent is against it.

Similar results were obtained in an online survey conducted late last year, which showed that 73.7 percent of the public favors the plan and 7.5 percent does not, the EPA said.

According to the EPA plan, a ban on plastic straws will be implemented July 1 in the government sector, and at all public and private schools, department stores, shopping malls and fast food stores.

If there are no major conflicts regarding the policy, it will be promulgated in April or May before its implementation, EPA Department of Waste Management Director-General Lai Ying-ying (賴瑩瑩) said at a public hearing Monday.

As a country surrounded by water, Taiwan needs to clamp down on the use of disposable items to protect its environment, Lai said, adding that plastic straws are the most common type of trash found on Taiwan’s beaches, along with plastic bags and PET bottles.

She said there are regulations in place for the recycling of PET bottles and plastic bags but the government needs to act now to stop the use of plastic straws, in line with growing international calls for such regulations.

The efforts against the use of plastic straws will be implemented in phases, extending to all food court services by 2020, requiring payment by customers from 2025, and imposing a complete ban by 2030, according to the EPA.

By Wu Hsin-yun and Flor Wang