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EPA outlines 'bring your own tableware' drive

TAIPEI -- The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said Sunday it is planning to launch a “bring your own tableware” campaign in a bid to reduce the amount of discarded cardboard food containers.

Consumers who use their own tableware when dining at eateries or ordering takeout will receive coupons, discounts or extra food, the administration said. “We are taking a cue from the success story of the 'bring your own cup' campaign last year,” an EPA official said.

Last year, the EPA worked with convenience stores, fast food outlets and beverage shops to offer customers coupons, discounts or increased volumes if they brought their own cups.

Nearly 18,000 shops participated in last year's campaign, which cut the use of cups by 6.6 million items that year, the EPA said.

“This is why we want to expand the campaign to tableware this year,” the EPA said.

“It will be a win-win-win situation that will benefit the eateries, the consumers and will mean less disposable tableware is used,” the EPA said. The EPA has estimated that the public uses 3.9 billion meal boxes a year, producing 80,000 metric tons of waste, which places a huge burden on the environment.

Wu Tien-chi, another EPA official, said providing “economic incentives” to consumers was the reason behind the success of last year's campaign.

To promote the “bring your own tableware” campaign, the EPA is urging government agencies and schools to take the lead by requesting non-disposable utensils whenever they place meal orders.

The EPA's latest campaign drew a mixed response from eateries, however.

Some shops said the campaign has good intentions, so they are willing to work with it.

But others said the size of customers' tableware may differ, which may create disputes over serving sizes.

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