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Keeping an Eye on Global Plastics Treaty to Update Plastic Reduction Policies

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The EPA has been promoting plastic restriction policies since 2002, enforcing regulations in stages to restrict the use of plastic bags for shopping, disposable tableware, single-use plastic beverage cups, and plastic straws. The United Nations is expected to introduce the progress and specific content for the Global Plastics Treaty in 2024. In the future, the Resource Circulation Administration will refer to this treaty for the promotion of its policies. In addition to plastic restriction and reduction, it will focus on low-carbon, zero-waste and reuse promotion, and communication and consultation with environmental organizations through the collaborative platform meetings to gradually advance these initiatives.

Since 2002, domestic efforts to reduce plastic use in Taiwan have been ongoing, targeting items such as plastic bags, beverage cups, plastic straws, and disposable tableware. These measures aim to guide manufacturers to use alternative materials, to assist retailers to restrict the use of single-use plastic products, and to encourage consumers to avoid disposable items or to carry their own reusable containers.

In recent years, Taiwan has stepped up its efforts to reduce plastic use in various areas. In 2022, regulations were introduced to require chain convenience stores and fast-food restaurants to have 5% of their outlets offer reusable cups and to offer NT$5 discounts to customers who bring their own beverage cups. In 2023, several regulations were promulgated, including the Targets and Implementation Methods for Restriction of Single-Use Lodging Supplies (一次用旅宿用品限制使用對象及實施方式), the Targets and Implementation Methods for Restriction of Internet Shopping Packaging (網際網路購物包裝限制使用對象及實施方式), and the Guidelines for Reducing Online Shopping Packaging 2.0 (網購包裝減量指引2.0), which stipulate that internet shopping packaging materials must not contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and must meet the criteria for the proportion of recycled paper or plastic material used. Additionally, plastic packaging trays and clamshell containers were designated as recyclable waste to strengthen plastic recycling. These diverse measures have been implemented through legal means, guiding enterprises to voluntarily reduce plastics at source, and through enhancing the recycling system to facilitate resource utilization.

In the future, the Ministry of Environment will continue to promote a variety of initiatives and measures. In conjunction with the enactment of the Resource Circulation Promotion Act, it will adopt measures such as pricing, material restrictions, encouraging self-supplying, promoting circular services, and restrictions on the use of certain materials. Additionally, it will plan comprehensive reduction strategies for different contexts. Combining this with corporate ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) considerations, the ministry will initially seek voluntary cooperation from businesses or promote measures through exemplary companies. This approach of gradual expansion of promotion aims to be pragmatic and systematic. In the past, the EPA has held collaborative platform meetings with environmental organizations to discuss measures and practices for promoting plastic reduction policies. In the future, the ministry will continue to strengthen these collaborative efforts, adhering to the principles of resource circulation and closely monitoring the progress and specific content of the Global Plastics Treaty as it reviews and adjusts plastic reduction policies.

Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, August 2023
Ministry of Environment