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2019 Clean up the World Weekend – Making Taipei more Beautiful by Keeping Cigarette Butts off the Ground

2019 Clean up the World Weekend press event The 3rd weekend of each September is the annual Clean up the World Weekend. To improve Taipei City’s environment and minimize cigarette butt pollution, the Taipei City Government’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) held the Making Taipei more Beautiful by Keeping Cigarette Butts off the Ground press conference in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) at Ximending today (September 21), urging smokers not to discard cigarette butts haphazardly by taking action, so that they can make the city a better place by maintaining good smoking etiquette.

According to the DEP, it has also recently launched the Taipei City Cigarette Butt Disposal Crackdown, targeting 23 cigarette butt disposal hotspots prone to infractions (refer to attached table) by dispatching inspectors to issue citations. If the infraction is supported by evidence, the offender will be fined in accordance with the Waste Disposal Act. Moreover, the DEP will help promote the EPA’s policy stating that “it is the burden of the arcade storefront owners to clean up cigarette butts, and it is the duty of convenience stores, internet cafés, and café chains to install cigarette butt receptacles at suitable locations, as well as to reinforce cleaning of the surrounding environment” from now until the end of December. The agency has already assisted 172 stores to install cigarette butt receptacles and 1,887 stores to assume the responsibility of cleaning their surrounding environment in 2018. In 2019, the aim is to increase the figures to 300 and 2,500 stores respectively.

The DEP indicated that although cigarette butts are small, they contain several thousand types of hazardous chemicals, and the plastic filters do not break down easily in the environment. Discarding cigarette butts, therefore, causes serious environmental poisoning. Not only do cigarette butts affect the city’s tidiness, but the toxins contained within can return to the human body through water and the food chain. To prevent randomly discarded cigarette butts from polluting and affecting the city’s appearance, the DEP continues to crack down on careless disposal of cigarette butts; in 2018, a total of 29,680 fines were issued. Furthermore, the DEP has focused on 23 hotspots for careless cigarette butt disposal infractions by dispatching inspectors to conduct spot checks and issue citations. If smokers are found to be in violation of the law, the offenders will be fined between NT$1,200 and NT$6,000 according to Article 27 and Article 50 of the Waste Disposal Act.

According to the DEP, from now until December 31, 2019, it will help promote the EPA’s policy to arcade storefronts including convenience stores, internet cafes, and café chains as well as nearby stores to install cigarette butt receptacles at the arcade or sidewalks; they are also requested to voluntarily maintain and clean up their surrounding environment. After the grace period, priority inspections will be conducted at the arcade of convenience stores, internet cafés, café chains, and nearby areas from January 1, 2020. If waste such as cigarette butt and trash is discovered during the inspection, a fine between NT$1,200 and NT$6,000 will be issued according to the Waste Disposal Act.

The agency commented that the city’s tidiness requires joint efforts from the citizens and the government, and therefore they hope that everyone can become responsible citizens helping to maintain and create a better urban environment.