Single-use plastic is being phased out in many parts of the world. While the United States has seen many cities set up campaigns to get rid of them, an entire country is going to mandate its removal over the next decade. The Taiwanese government is going to be removing items like plastic straws, bags, and containers in multiple steps.
Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Agency will essentially be removing all single-use plastic by 2030. They’ll also be launching a number of marine clean-up programs to help get plastic pollution out of the waters. EPA minister Lee Ying-yuan told Taiwan Today that the best way to eliminate plastic waste is to cut things off at the source.
The 12-year plan begins next year and will stretch into 2020 with the banning of free plastic straws in stores and restaurants. Five years after that, there will be an additional charge when opting for plastic straws, and then they’ll be banned outright by 2030. In 2025, that surcharge also stretches to plastic bags, utensils, cups, and containers.
"We aim to implement a blanket ban by 2030 to significantly reduce plastic waste that pollutes the ocean and also gets into the food chain to affect human health," EPA official Lai Ying-ying told Channel News Asia. At the moment, the average Taiwan citizen uses 700 plastic bags per year.
Already, the Taiwanese government has eliminated plastic bags at major supermarkets and other retail stores. Local establishments, such as smaller stores and cafes, will be getting rid of them later this year. With how aggressive the movement has been, we could see many establishments outlawing single-use plastic well before the 2030 deadline.
In other places around the world, England is working to ban all plastic straw distribution in restaurants and stores by the end of the year. Queen Elizabeth has removed all single-use plastic at Buckingham Palace already. China used to import loads of plastic waste in the past, but they’ve cut back on the process since last year and will completely ban importing this year.
Over in the United States, a number of cities along the West Coast have been creating programs and mandates to eliminate single-use plastic. A number of establishments in Seattle participated in a month-long campaign to halt distribution of plastic straws and many of them continue that practice today.
Single-use plastic is on the way out and for good reason. Not enough of it gets recycled and much of it ends up polluting our oceans. There’s various alternatives for plastic straws and containers that we can reuse or are more environmentally friendly.