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Taiwan mulling acceleration of plan to ban plastic straws.

A plan to ban plastic straws that was expected to be carried out in stages may now be put in place in a single step, an environmental official said Monday.

The government intends to put the ban in place at the same time for straws used in places where beverages or meals are served and for those given with take-out items, deputy environmental chief Shen Chih-hsiu said at a legislative hearing on the government's waste recycling policy.

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) first mentioned its plan to ban single-use plastic straws in June 2018, and it is expected to reveal a formal policy this week and have it take effect at 8,000 venues in four sectors on July 1.

The plan as currently stated would first prohibit government units, public and private schools, department stores, shopping malls and fast food chains from providing single-use plastic straws to people eating meals at the venue.

It would then extend the ban to other sectors and cover take-out items beginning in 2020, but Shen's statement Monday indicated the timetable for this stage of the plan could be moved up to this year as well.

Meanwhile, how the government will address polylactic acid (PLA) straws made from renewable resources such as sugar cane or corn starch remains unclear.

The supposedly eco-friendly straws pose a dilemma because plastics still account for 10 percent of their composition.

Shen said the straws should be banned because of the plastic they contain, but he indicated that the agency is still evaluating whether or not to prohibit them.

This is the first time Taiwan's government is trying to regulate plastic straws, and it has to consider whether substitutes for plastic straws are available, said Lai Ying-ying, director-general of the EPA's Department of Waste Management at the same hearing.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Shu-fen warned, however, that efforts to ban plastic straws would be useless if the government allows the use of PLA straws because no system for recycling those straws has been put in place.

She said customers can still use paper straws as a substitute if they need one.

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Publication:Taiwan News (Taipei, Taiwan)
Date:Apr 30, 2019
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