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Regulations to Be Amended to Restrict Biodegradable Plastic Tableware

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To avoid the impact of biodegradable plastics on the existing recycling system and to further reduce the usage of disposable tableware, the EPA preannounced the draft revision of the second item of the Targets and Implementation Methods of the Disposable Utensil Ban (免洗餐具限制使用對象及實施方式), which will limit the use of biodegradable plastic disposable tableware. The regulation is expected to take effect on 1 August 2023.

Since July 2002, the EPA has stipulated that eight types of entities -- including government agencies, public and private schools, department stores, shopping centers, wholesale stores, supermarkets, chain convenience stores, chain fast food restaurants, and storefront catering industries -- are not allowed to provide plastic disposable tableware. The regulation has been amended twice in 2016 and 2019 to expand the restriction to cover the use of all types of disposable tableware in government agencies, school cafeterias, department stores, shopping centers, and chain fast food restaurants.

On 30 Nov 2022, the European Union proposed a policy framework for bio-based, biodegradable, and compostable plastics, and suggested that biodegradable plastics be used for specific purposes where reduction, reuse, and recycling are not feasible. The EPA realized that many enterprises in Taiwan have been using biodegradable plastics as an alternative material after plastic restrictions were put in place, and such materials can only be rapidly broken down under specific environmental conditions. Considering that there is no appropriate recycling method or composting facility for such materials in Taiwan, which affects the existing recycling system and leads to related environmental issues, and to further reduce the use of disposable tableware, the EPA preannounced that the definition of non-plastic disposable tableware will be adjusted, and biodegradable plastic disposable tableware will be included in the scope of the items that shall not be provided by the enterprises in the regulation.

Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, February 2023

Ministry of Environment