Taiwan to ban use of Styrofoam cups


Taipei, Jan. 3 (CNA) The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) aims to ban the use of Styrofoam cups in Taiwan completely by the end of 2015. The EPA has mapped out draft measures restricting the use of expanded foam plastic for drink containers such as Styrofoam cups, of which more than 200 million are used per year but only around 20 percent of that number are recycled. The ban comes because the popular material is not easily disintegrated by the environment, damaging landscapes and causing pollution, the EPA said. It also poses a threat to marine and even human life, the EPA said. Ocean life may consume pieces of discarded Styrofoam, causing a hazard to people who consume seafood. There will be a grace period after the ban goes into effect because the EPA expects about 2,000 beverage shops and 10 Styrofoam manufacturers to be affected. Once that period is up, any violators of the ban will be fined between NT$1,200 (US$37.72) and NT$6,000 and ordered to make improvements, while serious violators could even face having their shops shut down. A toxicology expert at Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital agrees that Styrofoam is bad for human health and hopes people can cut the use of cups and bowls made from the material. Yen Tzung-hai, director of the hospital's Department of Nephrology and Division of Clinical Toxicology, said that the Styrofoam can only withstand heat up to around 70 degrees Celsius before releasing highly toxic benzene that can increase the risk of lymphoma and blood cancer over a long period of exposure. He advised eating a large amount of fruits and vegetables to help metabolize the toxins in case of consuming food tainted with benzene. (By Chang Ming-hsuan and Lilian Wu)