The Taoyuan City Government spent NT$2 million on its reusable cup scheme, but convenience stores say only 10 percent of customers are willing to use the cups.
According to official statistics, Taiwan uses and discards four billion disposable cups a year. Most consumers are not willing to use reusable cups due to hygiene concerns.
Citizen: “It doesn't seem like a good idea, hygiene-wise. Yeah. (So you have concerns? Like what?) Like, are they cleaned or disinfected properly?”
Citizen: “There are still hygiene concerns, because you don't know if the stores cleaned or disinfected them properly. So, I still bring my own cup or buy a disposable cup.”
Last year, Taoyuan became the first special municipality to pass autonomous carbon reduction laws. It also allocated NT$2 million to a reusable cup borrowing program. According to statistics, however, only 10 percent of consumers are willing to use reusable cups.
Lee Mei-chih, Section Chief, Dept. of Environmental Protection, Taoyuan City: “We expanded the scheme to 40 beverage stores in Zhongli's Liuhe shopping district this year. We saw the number of users surpass 10,000.”
Hsieh Ho-lin, Secretary-General, Taiwan Watch: “They won't think it's a hassle if it's in a busy shopping district or night market. When I'm done browsing at the night market, I'm also done with my beverage and I can return the cup. You just have to put your stations at good locations and not give consumers the choice of using single-use cups.”
Taiwan Watch says wider availability and not giving consumers the choice of disposable cups are the keys to success. The Department of Environmental Protection says 40 beverage stores in the Liuhe shopping area have signed on to the scheme and the cups are being cleaned by a professional cleaning company. It hopes the initiative will prompt more consumers to bring their own cups.