Taiwan is an island nation with a dire lack of natural resources. With over 70% of resources relying on imports, promoting its recycling and reuse has never been more imperative. Since 1997, the Environmental Protection Administration(EPA) of Taiwan has initiated a “4-in-1 Resource recycling program.” The system of the program combines sorting by “community residents,” disposal by “local government cleaning teams,” recycling by the “recycling industry,” and subsidization by the “recycling fund” to treat waste properly and raised the recycling rate to 55.14% in 2022, third in the world.
Since 2018, the EPA has formulated and executed the “Resource Recycling & Recovery Promotion Plan
” to promote resource recycling from the aspects of production, consumption, waste management and the secondary materials market. The production aspect will undertake strategies including the sound provision of baseline materials information, promotion of the design of easy-to-recycle products, and enhanced energy and resource efficiency of production processes to reduce waste generation. The consumption aspect is focused on extending product lifecycles, promoting circular procurement policies among government agencies and organizations, and leading a culture of green consumption. In terms of waste management, strengthening the diversion of materials and waste in disposal processes as well as the overall improvement of the recycling process are core focus areas. The establishment of national-level digital tools is also a key endeavor. Lastly, regarding the secondary materials market, optimizing recycling resource regulations of renewable products and establishing financial support to promote research and development and innovation strategies for integrating secondary materials back to the supply chain are of key importance. This should be paired with public outreach and educational activities so that the people are well informed and have the confidence to use products made of renewed materials.
In line with the Resource Recycling & Recovery Promotion Plan, Taiwan has established a “Resource Circulation Analysis System” to monitor materials distribution such as Organic Bio-Resources, Organic Chemical Resources, Metals and Non-Metal Wasted Resources.
The EPA has also successively promoted initiatives such as restrictions on certain businesses to provide plastic bags for free and provisions that ban 6 types of cosmetics and personal cleaning products from containing microbeads and other plastic particles. Furthermore, stipulations now prohibit four major business types from providing plastic straws. Parcels from online shopping portals must also endeavor to reduce packaging. The initiative with “Water Refill Map” app also provides a network of free potable water fountains, to name a few resource consumption reduction policies.
The materials recycling policy has also proved to be an outstanding achievement, with provisions such as the setting of environmental standards for “incineration-recycled aggregates” after treatment, construction waste guidelines, specifications and user manuals, and encouraging the use of “recycled plastics” through “Green Deal” with brand owners. A goal has also been set to increase the proportion of recycled plastics use in non-food containers to reach 25% by 2025.
In addition, Taiwan also promoted the “Waste-to-energy” initiative such as the use of biogas after anaerobic digestion of livestock manure to generate electricity, and specifying the types of waste that can be converted into solid renewable fuel SRF, its ensuing treatment methods, and SRF quality standards to reduce Taiwan's reliance on coal-powered energy.
In terms of future outlook, Taiwan will continue to uphold and strengthen the concept of “waste is just a misplaced resource” and move towards the sustainable goal of maximizing material use and minimizing environmental impact.