Foreign Student Launches No More Free Plastic Bags Campaign in Taiwan

Foreign Student Launches No More Free Plastic Bags Campaign in Taiwan
Photo Credit:Michael Kowalczyk@Flickr CC BY SA 2.0

What you need to know

Every year, Taiwanese use a total of more that 20 billion plastic bags, nearly four times the quantity in the entire European Union.

Polish exchange student Piotr Kurczewski has launched an online petition calling for a ban on free plastic bags in Taiwan.

In Taiwan for four years, Kurczewski fell in love with the beauty and friendliness of the island, but noticed the serious pollution caused by plastic bags.

In the description of the petition Free Taiwan From Free Plastic Bags, Kurczewski points out that many of the plastic bags given out are only used once before being disposed. He also acknowledges how using plastic bags has become a habit for the Taiwanese, who most of the time “do not hesitate to ask for a plastic bag to carry food, drinks, or other products.”

The Polish PhD student is calling on President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to implement a NT$5 fee on all plastic and paper carry-out bags. So far the petition has garnered more than 5,000 signatures since it was started.

The petition is not the first time people in Taiwan have attempted to raise awareness of the issue.

Last year, RE-THINK, a Taiwanese environment protection community organization, posted a series of illustrations promoting the reuse and nonuse of plastic bags, and drew over 3,000 shares on Facebook.

According to statistics from the Taiwan Environmental Information Association, each person in Taiwan uses more than 2.7 plastic bags daily. This amounts to more than 20 billion plastic bags annually, or nearly four times more than in the EU.

To mitigate the environmental impact of plastic waste, the Taiwanese government has imposed a plastic bag levy since 2002. Statistics from the Environmental Protection Administration show that the number of plastic bags consumed dropped by 58.7% in 2006. The same year, the government started to promote recycling of plastic bags, which led to 8,570 tons of plastic bags recycled in 2009.