Free plastic bags to be banned at 80,000 stores

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Free plastic bags to be banned at 80,000 stores

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Joe

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Free plastic bags are to be banned at about 80,000 stores to reduce the number used by 1.5 billion per year, the Cabinet said yesterday.

The measure — which is to take effect next year — would prohibit seven categories of stores — beverage stores, bakeries, pharmacies, medical suppliers, electronics stores, bookstores and laundries — from offering free plastic bags, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said.

Breaches of the ban would be punishable with a fine of between NT$1,200 and NT$6,000, the EPA said.

To promote the reuse of plastic bags, a rule specifying that bags sold at regulated stores should be at least 0.06mm thick would be scrapped to allow retailers to freely manufacture and price bags to maximize reuse, the EPA said.

In areas where garbage bag fees are required, a policy is to be introduced to allow the use of shopping bags as garbage bags to increase the reuse of plastic bags, the agency said.

Since 2002, about 20,000 stores have been prohibited from providing free plastic bags, including convenience stores, supermarkets, fast-food chains, department stores, retailers, schools and government agencies, a measure that has seen a decrease of 2 billion plastic bags used per year, the EPA said.

The EPA is also to ban the production and import of personal care products containing plastic microbeads to reduce ocean pollution, and the sales of such products are to be banned from July next year.

“About one truck of plastic waste is dumped into the ocean every minute and if the situation is not improved, the plastic waste in the ocean could outweigh all the fish in the ocean by 2050,” EPA Deputy Director Chang Tzi-chin (張子敬) said.

Chang called on the public to reduce and reuse disposable products and use their own bags for shopping to help protect the environment.

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