Petition calls for fee on plastic straws to save environment

Petitioner calls for vendors to charge fee for plastic straws to save environment and wildlife

Plastic straws. (Image by Pixabay user Alexas_Fotos)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- An online petition has been placed on the to require vendors to charge a fee to customers for each plastic straw they buy in an effort to cut down on the vast quantity of straws that are discarded into the environment. 

The petitioner, who is listed as youkunn, first shows a chart created by International Coastal Cleanup (cleanocean.sow.org.tw) listing plastic straws as the third most numerous form of ocean trash in Taiwan for 2016, at 22,660 straws, right behind plastic bottle caps (29,844), and plastic bottles (37,657). 


Top 10 most common items of ocean trash found in Taiwan. (Chart from cleanocean.sow.org.tw)

Next, youkunn posts a video showing the excruciating 8-minute process it takes to remove one plastic straw lodged deep inside the nostril of a sea turtle. 

Under "Proposal or Advice," youkunn states that 3 billion plastic straws are consumed in Taiwan each year. Due to their small size and low economic recovery value, they are rarely recycled. 

Youkunn then says that the straws are given away for free at drink shops, convenience stores, and coffee shops. The petitioner points out that every drink comes with a straw and every straw comes with a plastic wrapper, which is "extremely unprofessional." These straws cannot be recycled and adds to even more pollution to the environment and for animals to deal with, they added. 

Youkunn suggests that a simple NT$1 (US$0.03) fee for each plastic straw that is provided by vendors. 

The petitioner reasons that if a fee can be charged for plastic bags, the same concept can be applied to plastic straws. 

As an alternative, youkunn suggests that eco-friendly straws which are already available in the market today, such as those made of stainless steel, glass, bamboo, or other durable but degradable materials. 

Better still, the petitioner suggests that consumers simply bring their own reusable container to such establishments to enjoy the direct flavor of the drinks, without the need of straws. 

Under "Benefits and Effects," the petitioner lists the following:

1. Reduce the use of plastic straws and garbage.
2. Strengthen the environmental awareness of all people. 
3. Set an example as the flagship for the rest of the world to follow. 

As of 2015, petitions posted on the online portal, “Join,” accessible at ( https://join.gov.tw ), that exceed 5,000 signatures, must receive a response by the government within 60 days. In the case, the petition to change the time zone exceeded 5,000 signatures on October 19, therefore the government must formally respond by Dec. 19. To date, the site has received 2,233 petitions, of which 89 have been acted on, which represents a success rate of 7.1 percent. 

At the time of publication, only 662 signatures have been registered, far short of the 5,000 threshold needed for the government to respond.

For those wishing to sign this petition, please visit the Join website