Taipei Bans Bottled Water and Disposable Utensils in Schools

Taipei Bans Bottled Water and Disposable Utensils in Schools
Photo Credit: Mr.TinDC @ Flickr CC By ND 2.0

What you need to know

The Taipei City Government has decided to ban bottled water and disposable utensils from elementary and junior high schools in an attempt to teach young students about environmental issues.

Bottled water and disposable utensils have been banned from elementary and junior high schools in Taipei.

The ban, which will take effect on Aug. 1, is aimed at instilling the idea of environmental protection in young students. Containers and utensils made with melamine have also been banned, according to the Taipei City Government’s Department of Environmental Protection.

The ban does not apply to high schools, but the Taipei government hopes to “encourage” high school students to avoid purchasing environmentally harmful items.

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) has also agreed to spend nearly NT$13 million (US$404,000) on reusable stainless steel utensils for the canteens of 35 high schools in Taipei.

One high school that is trying to reduce single-use utensils has found that since it started to encourage teachers and students to prepare their own reusable containers for food in March, it has saved 200 paper containers each day. However, some students have decided not to buy cooked food at school and instead eat instant noodles.

Hsu Hsiao-jen (許孝仁), director of the Junior-High Union of Parents Association in Taipei, says that while the ban on bottled water might inconvenience some students, he supports the idea for health and environmental reasons. He has called on the government to increase the number of quality checks for school water fountains.

A study conducted by the Taipei City Environmental Protection Department shows that 35% of the bottled water in the market uses tap water as its water source.

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 European Union.

Ocean Conservancy, a nonprofit environmental group based in the U.S., claimed in a recent report that five countries in Asia – China, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam – produce more plastic waste than the rest of the world combined and are responsible for 60% of the plastic waste that enters the ocean.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: Olivia Yang