Taiwan aims to be completely free of plastic bags and all single-use plastic items, such as utensils and beverage cups, by 2030. But first, the straws. Starting this year, chain restaurants will be restricted from giving straws to customers for in-store use.

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Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) Minister Ying-Yuan Lee announced the new policy at a press conference last month. “”We aim to implement a blanket ban by 2030 to significantly reduce plastic waste that pollutes the ocean and also gets into the food chain to affect human health,” said Ying-Yuan Lee.

Related: Simple tips to reduce single-use plastic

Aspects of Taiwan’s new program will be phased in over the next decade. Retail stores will face fines for giving customers disposable food containers, utensils and plastic bags in 2020. By 2025, those fees will increase. As for straws, the new policy will first affect in-store diners, then later extend to carry-out. By 2030, the straw ban should be complete throughout Taiwan.

Taiwan’s new plastic policy is among the farthest-reaching in the world, though other countries are also stepping up the war against plastic waste. Scotland has banned single-use straws. In Kenya, people caught producing or selling plastic bags face stiff fines and even jail time. Rwanda banned plastic bags all the way back in 2008. Cities around the world have enacted anti-plastic policies to try to put a dent in the 8 million metric tons of plastic that wind up in the oceans every year.

A 2018 policy to severely decrease plastic bag use in Taiwan met great success. Starting January 1 of last year, businesses like pharmacies, bakeries and beverage shops could no longer offer customers free plastic bags. Follow-up research indicated that 70 percent of customers chose to forego buying plastic bags.

The EPA minister isn’t losing any sleep over the despair of single-use straw devotees. “You can use steel products, or edible straws — or maybe you just don’t need to use straws at all,” Ying-Yuan Lee said. “There is no inconvenience caused at all.”

+ Environmental Protection Administration (Taiwan)

Via Global Citizen

Image via Hans Braxmeier