During the pandemic, the use of paper tableware continued to increase. In addition to strengthening paper tableware recycling, the EPA also launched trial runs of reusable container rental services aiming to reduce the use of single-use paper tableware in the post-pandemic era.
In recent years, to increase the efficiency of paper container recycling, the EPA has strengthened many measures to promote paper container recycling and sorting, including sending letters to universities, ensuring local cleaning squads to sort paper containers, designing posters and sending them to local implementation agencies to promote paper container recycling and sorting, implementing recycler care programs to increase the subsidy per unit of paper container for self-employed recyclers, and implementing buffet and lunch box friendly store programs to enhance their paper tableware recycling and sorting efforts. With these efforts, paper container recycling efficiency has been increasing over the years. Additionally, to raise the quality of materials recycled so as to enhance resource reutilization, the EPA continues to educate the public to clean, sort and stack paper containers before handing them over to cleaning squads or recyclers.
Paper containers are usually laminated with a plastic or wax layer on the surface to make them oil and water resistant. They can be processed into pulp and plastic pellets to be reused. Currently there are three paper tableware processing plants in Taiwan, who purchase waste tableware from recyclers at a price above NT$4.8 per kilogram and are all in normal operation. According to statistics, the amount of recycled paper tableware did not decrease during the pandemic. It was gradually increasing as of January 2020. 88,790 metric tons of paper tableware were recycled during January to July 2021, 6.51% more than the 83,364 metric tons recycled in the same period in 2020. The amount recycled during May to July 2021 was also observed to be slightly more than the amount during January to April of 2021.
The EPA stated that failure to properly dispose of used containers after meals would harm the environment. Proper recycling of them contributes to epidemic prevention as well. Hence, the public is reminded to carry out three steps when recycling meal containers: cleaning, sorting and stacking. This involves lightly wiping them with tissues or paper towels and stacking them before recyclers collect them. Carrying out sorting and recycling properly and not disposing of paper containers as trash helps first-line recycling enterprises and self-employed recyclers more efficiently process them, and thus increases overall recycling efficiency. So besides cooperation from enterprises, sorting and recycling by the public at the front-end is also very important. Moreover, to reduce the use of single-use tableware at source, people are also urged to practice the habit of carrying their own reusable utensils when eating out or ordering meals to go.
Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, August 2021
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)