Are you aware of the number of plastics that come with the products you purchase from supermarkets? On Aug. 13, Greenpeace Taiwan published a citizen science research. With the official number of households from the Ministry of the Interior, it is estimated that the six special municipalities of Taiwan, including Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung, Tainan, and Kaohsiung, consume more than 220 million plastic products and packagings per week.
The research recruited participation from 36 households, 91 individuals in total. In the duration of one week, participants photographed all the plastic products and packagings of their daily purchases from top supermarket chains in Taiwan: PX Mart, Carrefour, 7-Eleven, FamilyMart, Costco, A-Mart, Wellcome and Simple Mart Retail.
Plastic consumption of the six special municipalities, calculated and averaged based on the photos sent in by participants, was estimated to be on average 35 plastic items per household per week. Besides plastic bags, wraps, boxes, plates and mesh bags, which often come with supermarket purchases, other plastic waste, such as plastic cups from tea shops, plastic lids, straws and plastic bottles, also make up a large proportion of plastic consumption.
Waste recyclers pointed out that 62 percent of these plastic waste from disposable products or packagings are either difficult to recycle or non-recyclable. This is because it is often difficult and expensive to separate plastic waste, and in many cases, the quality of the post-recycled materials do not worth a lot. So instead, many are treated as regular waste and end up in landfills or incinerators.
Greenpeace Taiwan’s plastic-reduction project leader, Chang Kai-ting (張凱婷), explained that the majority of the waste found in the ocean surrounding the island is plastic. Thus, besides consumers, Greenpeace also hopes that retailers and business operators would join the effort in reducing plastic use, adding that by setting plastic-reduction goals, reforming production line, people can save Taiwan’s marine environment from further deterioration.