The EPA will establish a plastic-free Liuqiu for the green sea turtles

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Taiwan Environmental Protection Administration (Taiwan EPA) held the opening press conference of the “Plastic-free Liuqiu—the Low-carbon Island Demonstration Project” at Taipei Main Station on May 23rd, 2018. At the press conference, Minister Lee Ying-yuan announced the launching of the 2-year project, namely the “Plastic-free Liuqiu—the Low-carbon Island Demonstration Project”. The project will focus on the promotion of the following five main aspects:
1.Plastic reduction from the source and compulsory separation of the recyclables from general wastes
2.Waste reduction through recycling
3.Proper treatment of wastewaters and improving the air quality
4.Beautifying the environment and purifying drinking water
5.Promoting plastic-free traveling to reduce carbon emission and wastes

In line with the 5 main aspects, 19 implementation strategies are proposed to encourage the locals and visitors to gradually reduce the amount of plastic used in all aspects of our daily life, including food, clothing, housing, transportation, education, and entertainment.

In addition, it is hoped that by establishing low-carbon, sustainable, and environmental-friendly business models will help promote a plastic-free, low-carbon tourism industry in Liuqiu. This will be mutually beneficial in economic growth and ecosystem protection and will allow the green sea turtles to swim freely in the green ocean.

Minister Lee stated that Liuqiu is a beautiful island. The environment and ecosystem on the island are well-preserved which people can see the green sea turtles swimming in the ocean from the beach.

Liuqiu attracts approximately one million tourists each year. However, this has resulted in the waste to increase tremendously. Based on the statistics provided by the township office, 1900 metric tons of waste is produced each year and has affected the environment of the Island.

Minister Lee re-emphasized that the implementation of these strategies will gradually guide the people on the island to use less plastic. These strategies include prohibiting disposable utensils when eating in, encouraging people to prepare their own toiletries, and increasing the number of environmental-friendly hotels, ones that don’t provide changing of beddings and towels, from 31 to 60.

Minister Lee further pointed out that if one million tourists each buy a bottle of water or beverage, one million waste PET bottles will be produced. If clean water machines are provided on the Island, not only can tourists easily access good quality drinking water, but the number of waste PET bottles can be significantly reduced. If the number of waste PET bottles could be halved, 150 grams of carbon footprints can be reduced per each 600ml bottle water reduced, and it is estimated that a total of 75,000kg of CO2 can be reduced per year.

Bai Sha Elementary School from Liuqiu Township, Pingtung County was invited to present a play called “The Children of the Sea” at the event. The students described the conservation of sea turtles at Liuqiu from a local perspective. After the press conference, much artistic work of sea turtles is displayed at the event to show the environmental impacts of plastic wastes which further suggests the importance of implementing the “Plastic-free Liuqiu—the Low-carbon Island Demonstration Project”. The displays are then moved to MRT Ximen station for a longer period of display from May 25th to June. 3rd, 2018. We invite everyone interested to visit MRT Ximen station to embrace yourself in a Plastic-free Liuqiu and imagining the green sea turtles swimming freely in the ocean.

Liuqiu Township of Pingtung County is the only coral island in Taiwan and has original tropical coastal forest ecosystems. The island is covered with limestone caverns and its coastline is covered with coral reefs. Liuqiu, blessed with this unique environment, is rich in ecological resources. In summer, cattle egret and barn swallow can be spotted. At night, you will find fireflies at Beauty Cave and Wild Boar Trench. During winter time, common sandpiper and brown shrike will stop by Liuqiu. In addition, Chinese Goshawk and Gray-faced Buzzard will visit during autumn and winter.

In order for our precious ecological resources to be experienced by everyone and that every generation will be able to enjoy the natural resources we possess, the EPA is calling out to all the tourists visiting Liuqiu to bring their own water bottles and toiletries and prevent using disposable plastic items. In addition, tourists are suggested to choose to stay in environmental-friendly accommodations (please refer to the attached document). It is hoped that Liuqiu can gradually become the model for a non-plastic and low-carbon island.

The high travel season of Liuqiu is from July to September. The EPA cooperated with Chunghwa Telecom to send out text reminder when Chunghwa Telecom users visit Liuqiu during this season whether for traveling or for business purposes. The purpose of this joint effort is to remind people not to leave behind their plastic wastes when visiting Liuqiu. It is hoped that people will engage in living sustainably and reduce the amount of carbon footprint produced, thus intergenerational equity could be achieved.