The EPA has been working on reducing waste generation at source and increasing people’s willingness to comply with waste-reduction policies so as to facilitate a net-zero, environment-friendly lifestyle. As a result, preannouncements were put out in 2021 that, as of 1 July 2022, a minimum discount of NT$5 is to be offered by chain beverage shops, chain convenience stores, chain fast-food restaurants and chain supermarkets to consumers who bring their own cups when purchasing beverages.
Taiwan is a country of major consumption of all beverages imaginable, where up to four billion single-use beverage cups are used annually. To cut down waste, the EPA has been promoting reduced use of single-use cups along with green consumption for a zero-waste and environmentally-friendly lifestyle. Targets and measures for restriction of single-use cups were first preannounced on 23 December 2021 and formally announced on 28 April 2022, before coming into effect on 1 July.
Many enterprises had already voluntarily cut use of single-use cups as they have always practiced zero-waste and a green lifestyle through at-source reduction of waste and carbon reduction measures. They either provided discounts in advance of the measure or increased discounts in order to encourage people to bring their own cups and practice a green lifestyle. Since 1 July, consumers who bring non-disposable cups themselves will be charged at least NT$5 less than those who do not when purchasing beverages in chain beverage shops, chain convenience stores, chain fast-food restaurants, and chain supermarkets. To help consumers easily spot such enterprises, they are required to display clearly visible signs on their premises showing the discounts for customers who bring their own cups.
The EPA pointed out that the older regulations mandated enterprises to provide a discount of NT$1-$2, resulting in 6% of consumers bringing their own cups. Survey results show that willingness to bring one’s own cup should increase if the discount is increased to NT$5. Those bringing cups themselves can enjoy lower prices and improved sanitation and safety. Meanwhile, this is expected to lower annual use of single-use cups by 580 million, which amounts to waste weighing 7,000 metric tons that would release 33,000 metric tons of carbon
and require 87 Daan Forest Parks to absorb in one year. Benefits for enterprises include lower expenses for cups and related materials, lower environmental costs, and increased popularity and profits.
Actively complying with the policy, many industry-leading enterprises have already either offered discounts in advance of the measure or offered better discounts. Some reported that the number of customers bringing their own cups grew fivefold during the trial period.
Take the 7-11 chain store for example. The NT$5 discount has been available since 15 June at over 7,000 branches and affiliated restaurant groups, increased to NT$7 for the first day of every month. Moreover, the corporation is now planning on installing equipment for cup circulation. A similar discount of NT$7 is offered at Starbucks, another chain beverage shop under the same parent company, Uni-President, which emphasizes that for the past 24 years it has been rewarding the act of bringing one's own cups with discounts.
In addition, Family Mart has initiated a cup rental service this March on top of implementing the discount policy. Installation of rental equipment is estimated to be complete in 400 branches, roughly 10% of Family Mart stores in Taiwan, by the end of this year.
For the fast-food industry, a NT$5 discount has been available one month in advance at McDonald's and KFC. In the past, these two leading corporations had long had relevant measures in place, such as designing packaging that uses fewer lids and straws as well as encouraging customers to bring their cups with point-collection schemes. Last year McDonald's began to voluntarily set up cup rental stations, while KFC reported five times more customers bringing their own cups since their discount took effect a month ago.
Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, July 2022
- Ministry of Environment