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Plastic items most common waste in coastal area: group

2019/11/21 21:36

CNA file photo

Taipei, Nov. 21 (CNA) Plastic items are the most frequently seen garbage on local beaches, accounting for 70 percent of marine debris in Taiwan in 2019, an environmental group said Thursday.

Plastic bottle caps, PET bottles, and cigarette butts were the top three marine waste found on beaches around Taiwan this year, each totaling more than 36,000 pieces, followed by over 20,000 plastic straws in fourth and about 15,000 plastic bags in fifth, according to data provided by the Society of Wilderness.

Compared with the previous five years, the number of single-use plastic items found on beaches decreased markedly in 2019, society executive director Liu Yueh-mei (劉月梅) said at the opening of a four-day exhibition on coastal cleanup events being held by the society in Taipei's Songshan Cultural and Creative Park.

For instance, the number of plastic straws collected this year through such activities dropped 27 percent year-on-year, she noted.

Liu gave credit to government efforts to restrict the use of plastic bags and straws in recent years, but lamented that the overall impact has been limited due to a lack of public awareness about the harm done by plastic products.

To more effectively address the issue of marine debris, the society sponsored 322 coastal cleanup activities around Taiwan this year, collecting 37,157 kilograms of waste along 72.73 kilometers of beaches, according to the society.

The society has also held 14 events to clean up streams and rivers this year, discovering that a majority of marine rubbish is the waste from people's daily lives, Liu said.

In response, Liu Jui-hsiang (劉瑞祥), deputy director-general of the Department of Water Quality Protection under the Environmental Protection Administration, said the government will further widen the scope of its restriction against plastic items from the start of next year, in an effort to ensure Taiwan is plastic product free by 2030.

(By Flor Wang and Bien Chin-feng)Enditem/AW