As Zhongyuan Festival approached, the EPA and local governments took the initiative to promote eco-friendly worship. In 2020, “donation instead of joss paper” was promoted across the country with a collection of more than NT$65 million in donations, approximately seven times the amount in 2017. And after Tainan City, Pingtung County and other local governments successively launched eco-friendly joss paper burners. The amount of joss paper burned in centralized burners in 2020 increased significantly to 1.7 times the amount in 2017, cutting 61 metric tons of PM2.5 emission, equivalent to emissions of 0.7 coal-fired power generator.
The EPA stated that during the pudu (literally “universal crossing” in Chinese) period, households and religious organizations often burn joss paper and incense and set off firecrackers as part of the custom. Since these actions often affect people’s living environments, the EPA and all local governments have been actively promoting eco-friendly worship that takes both the folk culture and the environment into account. For example, using large denominations of joss paper and providing collection and transportation for centralized burning of joss paper, replacing the burning of joss paper with donations or with white rice offerings, or participating in pudu online.
As the public becomes more environmentally conscious, more and more people are putting eco-friendly worship into practice. Nine counties and cities across the country have promoted “donation instead of joss paper” and the amount of donations collected is increasing yearly. In addition, after Tainan City and Pingtung County launched their eco-friendly burners in 2019 and 2020 respectively, more than 20,000 metric tons of joss paper in Taiwan were sent to incinerators, joss paper burners, or dedicated burners equipped with pollution control equipment in 2020. Moreover, the EPA formulated the Operating Guidelines for the Review and Subsidy for Joss Paper Burner Establishment Projects in May 2021 and expects to allocate NT$10 billion by the end of 2022 to subsidize local governments to set up eco-friendly joss paper burners.
The EPA noted that to ameliorate the pollutant emission generated from folklore worship, many counties and cities have adopted creative ways to promote eco-friendly worship, providing diverse outlets for people to be environmentally responsible. For example, New Taipei City and Nantou County have promoted online pudu by having people sign up to worship together online and designating locations for centralized collection of joss paper. Keelung City, Hsinchu City and Chiayi County have promoted centralized burning of joss paper combined with burner purifying ceremonies taking into account the pudu ceremonial culture. Taoyuan City has allowed people who adopt eco-friendly worship to participate in lottery activities. Yunlin County works with hypermarkets to encourage eco-friendly worship. Taichung City has invited professional baseball players to support eco-friendly pudu offering ceremonies. Kaohsiung City and Tainan City have worked in conjunction with social welfare organizations to promote “donation instead of joss paper.”
Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, September 2021
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)