BRING YOUR OWN BOTTLE: The municipality joined Taipei and Kaohsiung, switching first to reusable cups, but aiming to eventually have runners bring their own
By Hsiao Yu-hsin and William Hetherington / Staff reporter, with staff writer
A running event in New Taipei City on Sunday was the first in Taiwan to use reusable cups at fluids stations to reduce waste created by disposable plastic cups.
The event follows an initiative launched in May by Taipei and Greenpeace Taiwan to make marathons and other running events in the capital more environmentally friendly.
Organizers said that an estimated 4 million disposable cups were discarded at running events across Taiwan last year.
The Kaohsiung City Government has said that it would also implement environmentally friendly measures at an international marathon to be held in February next year, making it the third special municipality to take action.
Organizers on Sunday said that the use of reusable cups prevented the disposal of 10,000 plastic cups.
The cups were embossed with markings reminding runners to return them to the stations, the New Taipei City Environmental Protection Department said, adding that the city would wash and sanitize the cups for reuse at other events.
The department said it plans to use the cups at many more types of events and make them available to organizers of privately organized runs.
Taipei is to hold its next marathon on Dec. 9 and said it would encourage runners to bring their own water bottles and would seek to reduce paper used for marathon completion certificates by issuing them digitally.
Kaohsiung said it would also ask runners in February’s marathon to prepare their own water bottles.
It would put runners in control while reducing waste of resources, the municipality said.
Greenpeace project manager Lo Ko-jung （羅可容）, who focuses on plastic waste reduction, said that the changes are a welcome sight, and show that local governments care about sustainability and environmental protection.
Lo said that aside from the 4 million cups thrown away at running events last year — 60 percent of them in the six special municipalities — the events also ordered 3 million commemorative T-shirts.
Organizers in the three cities said that they would produce fewer shirts this year and ask runners whether they want them, rather than issuing them by default.
Greenpeace praised the municipalities’ efforts, saying that their initiatives are in line with global trends.
The central government should emulate their achievements, Greenpeace said, adding that waste reduction at events would also reduce the cleanup work afterward.
Organizers fill reusable “Ucups” at a fluids station during a running event in New Taipei City on Sunday. Photo courtesy of New Taipei City Environmental Protection Department