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Taiwan's shops giving support to ban on free plastic bags

2018/01/04 22:30:49

Photo courtesy of Chen Yu-chen (陳俞辰)

Taipei, Jan. 4 (CNA) Some shops in Taiwan are not subject to the government's new ban on giving out plastic bags for free, but are nonetheless offering discounts to encourage customers to bring their own bags or containers to carry purchased goods.

The restriction against offering free plastic shopping bags to customers came into effect on Monday and is an expansion of an earlier ban. It raises from seven to 14 the number of retailers that are now banned from giving customers plastic bags for free. These businesses include pharmacies, medical equipment retailers, electronics stores, bookstores and stationery shops, laundries, beverage shops and bakeries.

The earlier restriction introduced in 2002 banned government facilities, schools, department stores and shopping centers, convenience stores, fast food restaurants, hypermarkets, supermarkets and other establishments from offering free plastic bags to customers.

The new ban, however, does not include some shops, such as breakfast eateries, but some of these businesses have begun offering discounts to encourage customers to bring their own containers or bags.

Chen Yu-chen (陳俞辰), a breakfast shop manager, told CNA Thursday that his store usually uses five to six bags of plastics bags each day. In support of the ban, he launched special discount offers to spur customers to bring their own containers or bags and raise public awareness about the importance of environmental protection.

It's not clear whether more shops will follow suit. Many business owners fear customers would complain or be put off if they are not given plastic bags for their purchases.

But there is support for the measure even among shops that are affected by the ban.

Peng Chih-cheng (彭志成), owner of the beverage shop Mao Tou Ying Cha Sen Lin (literally, Owl Tea Forest), said he donates to charity the money that customers pay to purchase plastic bags, to show them that his shops do not benefit from the ban and to encourage them to bring their own bags.

Brucevil Chen (陳人平), CEO of HiiN studio, which promotes marine education, said shoppers do not have to prepare a new shopping bag, but can start by reusing their old plastic bags.

It remains to be seen what effect the new ban will have on reducing the use of plastic bags in Taiwan.

The ban still allows stores, such as bakeries, to continue providing bags that are used to wrap individual food items, even if they cannot give out bags for free to carry all the purchased goods.

(By Wu Hsin-yun and Evelyn Kao)