Taiwan, home of bubble tea, is latest country to ban plastic straws

Bubble tea is ubiquitous in Taiwan, but so are the thick, colorful straws used to slurp the drink. That’s not stopping the country from joining a growing number of places across the world implementing bans on single-use plastic straws.

The policy, announced in May, comes into effect on Monday (July 1). The first stage of the ban will apply to some 8,000 government offices, schools, department stores, shopping malls, and fast-food chains for people dining in. Repeat violators will be fined as much as NT$6,000 ($190).

The government hopes to totally phase out plastic straws by 2030.

Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Administration said that the ban’s gradual roll-out is aimed at getting dine-in customers to get into the habit of not using plastic straws so that they do away with them altogether in future. An official from the agency estimated that Taiwanese go through 3 billion plastic straws a year.

McDonald’s, for example, began removing plastic straws from dispensers in their Taiwan outlets in April in line with the government’s policy. A McDonald’s executive told local media that the move would reduce the company’s use of plastic by 16% in Taiwan. It will, however, offer paper straws if people need them. It also introduced new lids for its drinks, allowing people to drink directly for them in the same way that they can from takeaway coffee cups. KFC will give its Taiwan customers the option of buying a metal straw.

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