The seventh lunar month is just two days away. The Ghost Festival is the time of the year when people burn the most joss paper. The Environmental Protection Administration is urging people to switch to eco-friendly alternatives.
The gates of hell open during the seventh lunar month. Many residents and companies prepare lavish offerings and burn copious amounts of joss paper to appease ghosts. The Environmental Protection Administration says direct incineration of joss paper without any contamination control equipment generates significant amounts of harmful substances. It therefore is promoting eco-friendly alternatives, such as making donations to charities, purchasing products such as rice and donating them using the money that would have been spent on joss paper, or delivering joss paper for burning at centralized incinerators instead of by the roadside. In the past, these measures resulted in the reduction of 60 tons of generated PM 2.5.
Tsai Meng-yu, Director, Dept. of Air Quality Protection & Noise Control, EPA: “Sixty tons are equivalent to about the emissions of 3,000 diesel fuel cars. A bigger benefit is that there is a reduction in the number of complaints.”
Taichung is the place with the highest proportion of joss paper burned at centralized incinerators, at 40 percent. Its Environmental Protection Bureau says it's because temples have been responsive. It adds that by respecting deities as the starting point, it can increase the willingness of temples and the public to cooperate.
Chen Hung-yi, Director, Env. Protection Bureau, Taichung City: “We allowed temples to decorate the vehicles we use to collect joss paper to reflect their temple culture. We're working with them, and this paves the way for everyone to work together.”
In 2021, 22,000 tons of joss paper were burned at centralized incinerators, and NT$45 million in donations were made. The EPA is working with four convenience store chains this year to make it easier for people to donate instead of burn. Anyone who makes a donation via convenience store will receive 2,000 green points, which are worth NT$20 and can be used on green consumption.