Taiwan’s COVID-19 brakes lead to increased food packaging waste

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TAIPEI, July 23 (Reuters) – Taiwan was inundated with trash after a wave of COVID-19 cases caused movement restrictions that led to an increase in online shopping and food deliveries and threatening to slow efforts to reduce the consumption of single- use plastic.

Taiwan has faced an outbreak of community transmissions of COVID-19 since April after months of a few domestic infections and has been under restrictions since mid-May that have limited personal gatherings and reduced restaurants to take-out.

Lin Yu-huei, recycling manager at the Taipei Environmental Protection Department, said the amount of take-out containers thrown in the capital Taipei between January and May increased by 85% compared to the same period. ‘last year.

In May alone, Taipei produced 10.79 tons of recyclable waste from 7.05 tons a year earlier, the environmental protection department reported.

Much of this is single-use tableware, paper and plastic, and that concerns environmentalists.

“We cannot start using single-use dishes again every time there is an epidemic,” said Tang An, an activist from Greenpeace Taiwan.

“It would mean that all past efforts to reduce plastic waste would have been for naught.”

New Taipei, the municipality surrounding the capital, saw a 50% increase in recyclable waste in May compared to a year ago, Tang said.

While single-use plastic dishes and items are banned in shopping center food courts and supermarkets, most small restaurants and beverage stores, which are also the largest source of single-use plastic, are exempt from the policy.

These are also the companies that have experienced the largest increase in delivery orders.

Chef Pan Yen-ming of Korean restaurant An-Nyeong in Taipei said he spent around T $ 20,000 ($ 713.75) on single-use tableware just in June, pushing his raw material costs up to 14%.

“I have to admit that I chose to close my eyes on this, I have to transfer the social responsibility to others, pretending that I don’t know,” he said.

“If you don’t wrap the food nicely, no one will pay attention to you.”

($ 1 = 28.0210 Taiwan dollars)

Editing by Ben Blanchard and Christian Schmollinger

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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