Taipei ban on disposable tableware at supermarkets to kick in May 1

Businesses can apply for exemptions over hygiene concerns amid Wuhan virus outbreak

Disposable tableware (Getty Images photo)

Disposable tableware (Getty Images photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taipei supermarkets will be banned from providing single-use tableware to customers starting May 1 in an effort to reduce waste, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced Thursday (April 16).

Retailers to be affected include Costco, RT-Mart, A.mart, Carrefour, Ikea, and B&Q. Similar measures implemented at the beginning of the year targeted 55 department stores and shopping malls in the capital.

Disposable items listed in the ban are cups, bowls, plates, boxes, chopsticks, spoons, knives, forks, and stirrers. The businesses are also prohibited from covering non-disposable tableware with plastic bags, said the DEP.

Violators will be subject to a fine of between NT$1,200 (US$40) and NT$6,000 in compliance with the Waste Disposal Act. In light of hygiene concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic, retailers are allowed to apply for an exemption.

At least 11 cities and counties have already complied with the regulation, which the central government announced last August to crack down on one-time use tableware, but businesses can be exempt from the rule in water shortages and epidemics, such as the Wuhan virus. Environmental groups have criticized this exception as lax, saying disposable items do not guarantee a reduced risk of infection, wrote UDN.