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  • 綠意盎然
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Recent Issues By Topics
Recycling Recycling Fund 20th Anniversary Exhibition Reflects New Values

The EPA established the Recycling Fund Management Board twenty years ago as a way of bringing together citizens, recycling/disposal operators and local governments to be part of recycling efforts. The goal was to ensure that there were multiple channels for recycling daily refuse, such as bottles, cans, and old electronics. Backend disposal enterprises would then process these materials, allowing them to re-enter raw material channels for reuse. In the past two decades, Taiwan has reached a recycling rate of 52.51% in 2017, a significant improvement from 5.87% in 1989.

Visitors to the first floor were able to see the past, present and future of Taiwan’s recycling and thus gained a better understanding of the achievements. The exhibition showed football jerseys made from recycled PET bottles, sneakers made from recycled ocean trash, and wetsuits made of waste tire rubber powder, all of which are already well-known products in the world. In addition, a number of unique technologies developed by Taiwan, including waste LCD panel processing and recycling, are key processes in a circular economy of recycling, which reuse “waste” as “green gold”. This exhibition, showed that Taiwan has promoted resource recycling through the continuous adjustment of "policy and laws, economic incentives, R&D innovation, and network cooperation," to keep the resource recycling system up to date. The system has seen innovation and upgrading through recycling technologies to create higher-value green products, and it also introduces the concept of circular-design into everyday products to change life in the future.

Environmental Inspection Criminal Code Amended to Deter Environmental Crimes

During the conference, the participants discussed a few environmental criminal cases, such as air pollutant bypass by Tah Hsin Industrial, illegal waste treatment by Chien Shing Stainless Steel, and illegal wastewater discharge by ASE Kaohsiung K7 facility. It was also pointed out that the owners of the above mentioned enterprises could have been sentenced to up to seven years in prison and NT$15 million in fines, according to the amendment.

Taking Tah Hsin Industrial's case for example, if the violation had happened after the promulgation of the amendment, the people responsible for the case (including supervisors, agents, employees or other personnel involved in the offense) could have been charged with violating Article 53 of the Air Pollution Control Act or Article 190-1 of the Criminal Code.

If an enterprise discharges wastewater containing harmful substances that exceeds regulation limits or disposes hazardous industrial waste illegally, its operator shall be referred to the Prosecutors Office for further investigation according to the current Water Pollution Control Act and the Waste Disposal Act. However, after Article 190-1 of the Criminal Code was amended, just the behavior itself or the result of the activity can be considered a criminal act. If the case fits the above mentioned scenario, whether it should be reported to prosecutors and undergo further investigation will be decided through the environmental crime investigation task force established by local prosecutors’offices and the environmental agency-prosecutor-police cooperation mechanism.

After Article 190-1 of the Criminal Code was amended, the EPA has given priority to establishing the execution principles of environmental laws in order to maintain the consistency of the implementation standards among different regulations. By integrating the knowledge and resources from different government agencies and strengthening Taiwan's environmental criminal laws, the EPA has shown its determination to fight environmental crimes.

The EPA hopes to achieve consistent law enforcement across different government environmental agencies and prosecutors' offices. Also, the EPA urges the public to learn about new regulations to prevent accidental violations and to protect the environment by complying with the law.

Water Amendments to Regulations Governing the Collection of Water Pollution Control Fees Preannounced

Amendments to the Water Pollution Control Act were announced on 13 June 2018, which included: revising Article 11 to exclude the collection from public sewage systems and community sewage systems; and, authorizing local governments to collect control fees from households and to formulate localized regulations. Because of the amendments made to the Water Pollution Control Act, the EPA is also revising the Regulations Governing the Collection of Water Pollution Control Fees and changing the name of the law based on the collection targets to differentiate the law from the household fee collection by local governments. The main points of the amendments are as follows:

1. Specifying the responsibilities of the central and local governments for collecting water pollution fees from enterprises and sewage system operators.

2. Removing public sewage systems and community sewage systems from the list of collection targets. The amendments also stipulate 1 January 2019 as the start date for the collection of water pollution control fees from other targeted regions and entities. The calculation method for the fees has also been added.

3. The amendments added more conditions in which fee collection may be waived and the calculation methods for wastewater volumes. The conditions for waiving of fees are as follows:

1. Livestock manure is being utilized.

2. Wastewater is produced in daily life by industry staff.

3. Household wastewater is being treated by industrial sewage systems.

Air Revisions to GHG Offset Regulations Preannounced to Encourage Emission Reduction

The EPA explains that the revisions to the regulations will also help future policy making for the cap-and-trade scheme. For example, one of the revisions excludes targets controlled by the capand-trade scheme in order to avoid double counting of emission allowances. As for microscale projects, the EPA is dividing them into three types: renewable energy projects with an output capacity under 5,000 kW; energy efficiency improvement projects with an output under 20,000,000 kWh per year; and other projects that result in emission reductions of under 20,000 tonnes CO2e per year. In addition, the EPA also aims to stimulate the development of emission reduction technologies by simplifying the application procedures for offset projects and encouraging applications from smaller emission sources (e.g. food manufacturers, beverage manufacturers, semiconductor packaging and testing companies), the transportation industry, and the residential and commercial sectors (e.g. business buildings and the accommodation industry). The EPA also reviewed the original regulations for any insufficiencies and made the following modifications:

  • added regulations to the crediting period of projects receiving government assistance
  • emoved terms that have already been defined in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act from the glossary
  • added regulations on the creation of holding accounts
  • added regulations on the extension of crediting period for registered projects

The draft amendments to the Regulations Governing Greenhouse Gas Offset Program Management includes a total of 23 amendments, which include 2 additions and 16 revisions of the current regulations. The amendments also include the removal of the affixed encoding table for emission reductions, with a new encoding method to be announced in the future.

Waste Amendments for Industrial Wastes Categorized As Industrial Raw Materials Preannounced

The Industrial Wastes Categorized As Industrial Raw Materials was announced by the EPA on 7 April 2003 and underwent six revisions, the latest of which was announced on 31 March 2018. A total of 15 categories have been announced to date. Due to the recent drastic increase in the amount of imported waste thermoplastics and waste paper, the EPA looked into and analyzed the import conditions, exporting countries, uses, and impacts to and material flows in Taiwan, and considered the burdens and impacts to the environment. It was done before the draft revisions came up, aiming to upgrade import management as well as ensure industrial materials used to meet industries' needs.

Below are focuses of the preannounced revised Industrial Wastes Categorized As Industrial Raw Materials. 1. Waste thermoplastics: Materials imported as scraps or defective products, made of a single material or in a single form, produced from the plastic production processes. Or, if not the above, imported materials made of a single material or in a single form that are used by Taiwan’s enterprises to produce plastic products. Only factories that are registered or eligible for registration waivers according to regulations are to import waste plastic so as to ensure that imported materials are directly sent to industries in Taiwan.

2. Waste paper: Imported material is recycled and properly sorted unbleached paper/cardboard is made into kraft paper or corrugated paper. Or, if not the above, the imported material is other types of paper/cardboard, made of bleached chemical pulp, that are used by enterprises in Taiwan to produce paper/cardboard. Only factories that are registered or eligible for registration waivers according to regulations are to import waste paper, so as to ensure that imported materials are directly sent to industries in Taiwan.

Feature Article Enhancing the Environmental Impact Assessment System

Background

Since its promulgation in 1994, the Environmental Impact Assessment Act has undergone three revisions and has gradually become Taiwan’s main legal mechanism to prevent and lessen negative environmental impacts brought by government policies or development activities. The EIA evaluation procedures draw everyone’s attention to various environmental issues due to socioeconomic and environmental changes, advancing technology, more complex development activities in recent years, and increasing regional limitations. The EPA announced its latest amendment of the Act in September 2017, which now includes 66 articles in total. The Plan has six focuses: upgrades of incinerator equipment; promotion of regional cooperation; offshore garbage disposal; improving the effectiveness of environmental installations; supervision of garbage clearance; and circular economy policies.

Ten revision directions of the Environmental Impact Assessment Act

The EPA strives to prevent and mitigate negative impacts on the environment caused by government policies or development activities by building a legal framework, raising public credibility of EIAs, and establishing a precise and effective EIA system.As a result, focuses for the revised Environmental Impact Assessment Act proposed by the EPA in 2017 include:

Strengthening the effects of EIA within policies; improving competent authorities’ roles and functions; specifying EIA principles of recusal; specifying regulations for EIA document rectification and extension; reevaluating the effective periods of EIA results and effectiveness of development permits; regulating how developers modify application or revocation of EIA results; revising EIA’s supervising mechanisms; adding development activities that should undergo EIAs; adding regulations regarding mandatory assessments for EIA technical consulting firms. With references from the National Affairs Conference on Judicial Reform, regulations are set to require developers to return monetary gains from violating mandatory obligations. A whistleblower clause and a reward system are also set to encourage internal employees to report any violations. Also, developers should disclose all original information about current environmental conditions and information obtained from various environmental monitoring carried out during development activities.

Improvement of EIA efficiency and public credibility

The EPA aims to use EIAs to fully screen development projects, and raise its efficiency and the public’s trust. As a result, various improvement strategies and measures have been proposed for EIA revisions, which include promoting adjusted administrative procedures and amending the Act and relevant subsidiary regulations. Details, future directions, and promotion timetables are as follows:

1. Revising the EIA system

(1) Revisions and Announcement of the Working Guidelines for Environmental Impact Assessments for Development Activities (開發行為環境影響評估作業準則 ) on 8 December 2017:

In order to simplify the first EIA phase, the EPA will implement and link national regional plans with zoning and categorizing controls in future spatial plans, as well as adjust investigation tables for environmentally sensitivity zones. While investigating current environmental quality conditions based on their own development activities, developers are required to use the latest government-disclosed data or representative public data accumulated by other entities over a long period as priority quotes. Reasons for not quoting existing said data during onsite investigation should also be provided. Also, to enhance the second EIA phase, developers are required to evaluate conclusions based on environmental impact statements and screen key environmental elements and factors before the scope of assessment is defined. Guideline tables for scopes of assessment are revised as well.

(2) The revised Standards for Determining Specific Items and Scope of Environmental Impact Assessment for Development Activities ( 開發行為應實施環境影響評估細目及範圍認定標準 ) and the Environmental Impact Assessment Enforcement Rules ( 環境影響評估法施行細則 ) were announced on 11 April 2018:

The determining standards in the latest revision are intended reexamine the levels of environmental impacts brought by development activities. While activities with bigger impacts are required to undergo EIA, those with smaller impacts will be regulated by the respective industry competent authorities for the relevant regulations. The overall goal is to implement reasonable mandatory EIAs for different activities. Details are modified in accordance with the revised determining standards, and divisions are adjusted for EIA jurisdiction as well.

(3) Promotions and revisions of the Environmental Impact Assessment Act continue:

Revision focuses include strengthening EIA functions within government policies to simplify procedures for individual development projects and enhancing the roles of industry competent authorities. It also includes specifying the EIA mechanism for document rectification and extension; examining the effective periods for EIA results; implementing EIA tracking and supervising mechanisms; and balancing other environmental regulations. The goal is to establish a clear and efficient EPA system and enhance public trust and evaluation efficiency. In 2017, the EPA preannounced the draft revisions on 20 September and organized six public hearings in October and November. Legal experts and scholars were invited to attend consultation meetings on 16 and 27 March 2018, and meetings were held on 6 August to review EIA operations as well as collect opinions from regional environmental bureaus and meeting attendees.

2. Ensuring timely EIA review procedure

(1) The EPA took over the EIA Review Committee’s Project Group Opinion-Gathering Meeting and Onsite Observation Plan ( 專案小組意見陳述會議及現場勘察計畫 ) beginning August 2017. It also revised the Plan, newly requiring notifications sent to town halls in regions impacted by development projects as well as those deemed necessary to be invited to meetings because of unique project characteristics. Town halls and neighborhood and village chiefs were asked by official letters to notify residents or organizations living nearby and in development-impacted regions. The EPA held public meetings to gather people’s and various groups’ opinions before the review committee convened EIA meetings as well as to ensure proper responses by requiring developers and relevant authorities to respond to the opinions through official letters. Between August 2016 and February 2018, a total of 29 meetings and observation operations were conducted on 42 cases so that concerned local residents and groups could express their thoughts on development projects.

(2) The project group will hold a maximum of three meetings for preliminary reviews and will no longer accept document rectification to enhance rectification quality and review efficiency. For the majority of all EIA cases undergoing preliminary review meetings since May 2016, the EPA has been able to reach suggested conclusions within three meetings.

(3) The current document review procedure continues while the format of review opinions is adjusted to focus on tracking responses to previous opinions. This is done to drastically decrease the number of review opinions brought up in preliminary review meetings in order to enhance review efficiency.

(4) Developers are to apply once a month only for document rectification or extension. If developers fail to rectify necessary documents before the deadline, or if the rectifying documents do not comply with regulations, or have an unspecified reason for extensions, the EPA will reject the application to ensure the EIA review proceeds in a timely fashion.

(5) Taking the EIA review cases of 22 offshore wind energy projects evaluated in 2017 as an example, the EPA completed the preliminary review stage for 19 cases within six months and provided suggestions that they should pass EIA reviews. It not only demonstrated high EIA efficiency, but also met the EPA’s goal of finishing an EIA review within six to 12 months. Moreover, the EPA completed  and passed the two-phased EIA evaluations for the 3rd and 4th stages of the Central Technology and Science Park, displaying the practical effects of the EPA’s strategy on improving review efficiency.

Future prospect

The EPA notes its aim to adjust the current administrative procedure with EIA system enhancement strategies and strives to revise relevant EIA regulations and raise screening functions and review efficiency. It hopes to achieve the goal of sustainable development in the areas of environment, economy, and justice via cooperation between the private and public sectors.