TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Becoming a "cigarette litter informant" has become a lucrative profession, with Taiwan's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announcing that an informant in western Taiwan earns NT$100,000 (US$3,251) per month, reported TVBS.
With the popularity of traffic recorders and hidden cameras, many have started to make money by becoming professional informants. In western Taiwan's Miaoli County, an expert informant who reports on those who litter cigarette butts earns NT$100,000 for providing evidence of the offenders in the act to the EPA.
According to Miaoli's EPA, 7,904 cases of litter were reported last year, an increase of about 1,600 cases compared to the previous year. Among them, 90 percent consisted of discarded cigarette butts, with fines ranging between NT$1,200 and NT$6,000.
Those who successfully report a liter bug to the EPA will receive 50 percent of the fine amount levied on offenders.
The EPA also said that the general penalty for discarding cigarettes is NT$1,200. If a person successfully reports such a case, they will receive a tax deduction of NT$480 per incident. With the proliferation of traffic cameras and hidden cameras, the total number of cases reported per month has ground to between 500 and 800.
Some informants report hundreds of cases at a time and, in densely populated areas such as Toufen Township, Zhunan Township, and Miaoli County, there are now many "professional informants."
The EPA also said that their most famous informant in the region has been reporting such crimes for seven years, earning him a monthly bonus of more than NT$100,000. Most of the videos submitted consist of people smoking while riding a scooter or driving a car with the windows rolled down.
Once he spots them smoking, he will follow them until they discard the cigarette butt on the street, capture the evidence, and then testify against them. Other professional informants reportedly earn between NT$30,000 and NT$70,000 per month.
The EPA also explained that cigarettes are not easy to remove from the environment and can block drainage ditches.