Taipei, Nov. 7 (CNA) Greenpeace Taiwan on Tuesday spoke of the comprehensive adoption of a reusable cup system in Taiwan, arguing that doing so would save the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as would taking 240,000 fuel-powered scooters off the streets.
Eliminating the 4 billion disposable cups used in Taiwan each year would cut 58,785 metric tons of carbon emissions, the group said, joining Greenpeace East Asia’s call to phase out single use packaging in the region ahead of talks on the Global Plastics Treaty next week.
The group conducted a life-cycle assessment of how reusable cup systems would perform in Taipei, Tokyo, Busan and Hong Kong, and found that their environmental performance would be better than that of disposable cups (including paper cups lined with a PE coating), said Greenpeace campaigner Chang Kai-ting (張凱婷) at a press conference.
Citing a recent report by Greenpeace East Asia on the assessment, Chang said 24.6 percent and 35.7 percent reductions in carbon emissions and water resource consumption, respectively, could be achieved in those cities based on high use of reusable cup services.
The analysis found that the giant cup systems also reduced waste, resource use and pollution, the report said.
Though Greenpeace did not describe how such systems would work, drink shop chains have begun instituting programs in which customers get a drink in a reusable cup that they can then return to be cleaned and sterilized.
The system saves on the emissions generated during the production of disposable cups, the stage in which most of the emissions occur, because fewer cups are needed, and it also saves on water use.
“One-time cup production consumes more water during its manufacturing process than the combined usage and cleaning of reusable cups,” said a Greenpeace spokesperson.
To achieve the scale needed to make the reusable cup system most efficient, governments and businesses need to accelerate the development of reuse solutions “rather than being trapped in the vicious cycle of recycling and production,” according to the report.
Chang urged Taiwan’s government to set a clear roadmap for plastic waste reduction and adopt a 50 percent reuse target by 2030, by creating more access to reusable cups in public areas, such as movie theaters, arenas, and restaurant chains.
Also, the government should introduce financial incentives to harmonize and scale up reuse system infrastructure, which should be prioritized over investing in recycling schemes, she argued.
These investments in infrastructure include the development of standardization, container design, logistics, training and washing facilities, according to Greenpeace.
The environmental group said its surveys in Taiwan have found the reuse cup policy would be well-received, with 85 percent of respondents supportive of the policy and 79 percent agreeing that the government and businesses should speed up the development of reusable packaging.
The surveys also found, however, that only 31 percent of its respondents had used a reusable cup before, a potential obstacle in getting consumers to back such a program in practice, especially without incentives to get them to change their behavior.
The Cabinet-level Ministry of Environment has set a goal to ban the use of plastic cups nationwide by 2024.
(By Chang Hsiung-feng and Lee Hsin-Yin)