Fb 南迴永續旅行聯盟

Taitung’s Lanyu (Orchid Island)  and Green Island attract a large number of tourists with their unique natural landscapes and rich ecosystems. However, with the tourism industry booming, these areas are also facing increasingly serious pollution issues. To balance ecological protection and tourism development, the Taitung County Environmental Protection Bureau has been promoting the “Disposable Cup Reduction Plan for Offshore Islands” since 2021, aiming to reduce waste from single-use plastics and protect this beautiful land. (Photo Credit:IG@oceanrelier, FB 南迴永續旅行聯盟)

Photo Credit:ig@oceanrelier

According to statistics from the Taitung County Environmental Protection Bureau, since the implementation of the reusable cup program, single-use plastic waste on Lanyu and Green Island has significantly decreased. Over 10,000 cups have been borrowed, successfully reducing single-use items such as cups, lids, straws, and plastic bags in the economic cycle by more than 40,000 pieces. In 2023, the program further expanded its impact, with the number of borrowed cups increasing by over 3,000 compared to the same period in the previous year. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Bureau has assisted food and beverage businesses on the outlying islands in adopting sustainable meal boxes and utensils, and organized beach cleanups and plastic-free accommodation activities to further reduce plastic pollution. Throughout the year, a total of 260,000 single-use items were eliminated from the waste stream on the offshore islands, making a positive contribution to the protection of their local environments.

Following the success of the reusable cup program on the offshore islands, the Taitung County Environmental Protection Bureau, in collaboration with the South-link Eco Tourism Union, extended the program to townships such as Taimali, Dawu, Jinfeng, and Daren. By integrating the concept of environmental sustainability into other spots along the South-Link Road (Nanhui), they aim to raise awareness among residents and visitors of Taitung as a place of ecological balance. Currently, more than 30 businesses have joined the reusable cup rental service, promoting plastic-free and sustainable tourism to reduce single-use waste. These businesses include designated homestays, reusable cup return points in convenience stores, and well-known tourist restaurants in tribal villages.

The implementation of this collaborative program has not only further enhanced the environmental image of Taitung County but also had a profound impact on the environmental awareness of local residents and tourists. While many residents are happy that the beauty of their homeland is being recognized by more people, some are also concerned about the potential carbon footprint and pollution brought on by tourism development. The South-Link Eco Tourism Union promotes reduction plans in these areas, aiming to lessen the environmental burden and ensure that ecological protection and tourism development in Taitung complement each other.

In Taiwan, holding a hand-shaken beverage has become an indispensable part of daily life. According to data from the Ministry of Environment, Taiwan consumes up to 4 billion cups annually. If these were all replaced with reusable cups, it could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 58,785 tons, equivalent to removing more than 240,000 motorcycles from the streets, and also save more than 845,000 cubic meters of water. This is why the reusable cup program is so important in Taiwan and even more critical for Taitung.

The successful implementation of the reusable cup program, shows Taitung’s determination and innovation in environmental protection and sustainable development. From its beginnings in Lanyu and Green Island to its expansion into the South-Link area, this program has effectively reduced a large amount of single-use plastic waste and raised environmental awareness among local residents and visitors. As more people, both domestically and internationally, come to understand and appreciate Taitung, the county is gradually becoming a model for environmental protection and sustainable development worldwide. Through the joint efforts of the government and local groups, Taitung’s environmental image and sustainable development goals will be further strengthened and enhanced, setting an excellent example of environmental stewardship for the world.