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Free drinking water app helps cut plastic waste in Taiwan

Public urged to make most of water map and do away with bottled water

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Volunteer replenishes drinking water on Mount Guanyin. (EPA photo)

Volunteer replenishes drinking water on Mount Guanyin. (EPA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A mobile app providing information on locations for free potable water access has played a role in reducing Taiwan’s plastic waste from used PET bottles.

The “Water Refill Map” (My Hong-Te) application was launched in March 2020 with the collaboration between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and CircuPlus, a startup community dedicated to promoting the circular economy through ICT applications.

The app offering information on 8,300 free drinking water locations has been downloaded 210,000 times, the EPA said at a Wednesday (Aug. 3) press event. About 458,000 PET bottles have been saved, equivalent to the cut of 40 tons of carbon emissions, wrote the Environmental Information Center.

The initiative was inspired by a long-lost tradition when households would leave teapots full of water on the road for weary travelers who crave a glass of water, said CircuPlus founder Huang Wei-cheng (黃暐程).

To promote the use of the app, the press event was held at the visitor information center of New Taipei’s Mount Guanyin. The mountain boasts many drinking water sites, which are routinely replenished thanks to a group of mountaineering enthusiasts who volunteer to carry water uphill.

Huang believes people together can drive a positive change by supporting campaigns like this for the country’s net-zero vision by 2050. According to him, eliminating the use of 1% of bottled water a year, or 10 million units, amounts to emissions absorbed by 2.3 Daan Forest Parks, the 26-hectare park dubbed “the lung of Taipei.”