Since the Taiwan Marine Debris Management Platform was jointly set up by the EPA along with civic environmental organizations in July 2017, Taiwan's management strategies for marine waste have progressed much and matured. The Taiwan Marine Debris Governance Action Plan has four focuses: source reduction; prevention and removal; research and investigation; and expansion of collaboration and participation. Combining with the "Salute to the Ocean" policy, the public and private sectors work together to thoroughly clean up marine waste.
Marine waste is a major ongoing marine environmental problem of concern to all nations. In particular, marine plastic waste has a profound impact because of its slow decomposition in the environment. In September 2020, the Taiwan-US Environmental Protection Technological Collaboration Agreement was signed, and its No. 13 Executive Plan targets marine waste as requiring cross-departmental collaboration. This reflects the significance and urgency of the marine waste problem.
Taiwan Marine Debris Management Platform, a result of joint efforts by the public and private sectors
In July 2017, the EPA and civic environmental organizations set up the Taiwan Marine Debris Management Platform (hereinafter the Platform). and drafted the Taiwan Marine Debris Governance Action Plan (hereinafter the Plan). The Plan's second amended version was completed at the 12th Platform meeting on 30 August 2019. All the Platform members will work on the Plan's four social aspects, covering 76 measures based on the collaboration of both the public and private sectors. The second aspect, prevention and removal aiming to stop garbage from entering oceans, has 33 ongoing and future projects.
As for the source reduction strategy, it has 18 ongoing and future projects. Currently, the number of participating civic environmental organizations has reached 12, up from the original eight, while participating government agencies include the Ocean Conservation Administration (OCA), the Fisheries Agency (FA), and the EPA. However, the marine waste issue is complex, and individual agencies or organizations have limited capabilities. With the urgent need to launch conservation work across all aspects, the Platform plans to invite relevant agencies and organizations to its meetings to further influence marine waste stakeholders. It hopes to raise social awareness so everyone can shoulder their responsibility to safeguard the environment by reducing the generation and impact of marine waste.
The Taiwan Marine Debris Governance Action Plan has the following four focuses:
1. Source reduction
2. Prevention and removal
3. Research and investigation
4. Expansion of collaboration and participation
I. Source reduction
Strategy 1: Policy planning
(1) Ongoing projects
1. The policy to limit plastic shopping bags and plastic disposable utensils was first formulated in 2002 and expanded in 2017.
2. Measures were formulated in 2005 to limit over-packaging.
3. Measures were formulated in 2007 to limit plastic trays, packaging, and containers.
4. Measures have been implemented since 2011 to reduce single-use beverage cups at source.
5. Measures were implemented in 2017 to limit cosmetics and individual hygiene products that contain microplastic beads.
(2) Future projects
1. To reach the goal of “no plastic” by 2030, measures with corresponding timetables and specific actions will be formulated to reduce or ban single-use plastic products. The public sector is not to use disposable utensils when organizing indoor and outdoor events. Other plastic reduction policies will also continue to be implemented.
2. The program of Green Mark hotels will be promoted to encourage hotel enterprises to get certified.
3. To help reduce plastic bottle usage, the EPA aims to enhance the functioning of public water fountains by supervising all city and county governments to maintain water fountains and appropriate equipment and adequately sample and inspect water quality. In addition, there are practical planning programs aimed at increasing water fountain usage. Afterwards, based on actual results, the EPA will formulate other programs to add water fountains in densely populated areas or spots with high potential needs.
4. There are plans to subsidize commercial spaces or night markets in all counties and cities that are designated plastic reduction demonstration spots.
5. Oyster farms are encouraged to replace their Styrofoam floating racks, and there are proposals to solve the problem of Styrofoam pieces breaking off from the racks or floating outside the farms and becoming marine waste.
Strategy 2: Corporations' extended producer responsibilities
(1) Ongoing projects: There are companies, such as organic food suppliers such as Leezen and Fuyah, that voluntarily reduce plastic or set up systems that demonstrate biodegradable packaging material decomposition.
(2) Future actions
1. In the future, the Platform will focus on applying the zero-waste principle in policies and incorporating the principle when designing single-use packaging materials or containers to achieve a circular economy for plastic. There will also be efforts to encourage research of alternative materials and promote relevant technology and regulations.
2. Corporations are urged to cut down packaging, and to organize events such as the Clean Ocean Industry Expo.
II. Prevention and removal
Strategy 1: Effective removal of wastes in hotspots
(1) Ongoing projects: Some harbors regularly clean up port garbage with machines or human cleaning crews.
(2) Future actions
Competent port authorities are in charge of cleaning and maintaining harbors and cleaning floating garbage by purchasing special machinery or employing a special workforce.
There will be programs to encourage vessels and boats to help collect floating garbage. A collection fleet of 2,500 vessels is expected to be assembled.
Programs will be in place to train volunteer divers and promote underwater collection of marine waste via correct and safe methods.
Strategy 2: Stopping waste from entering oceans
(1) Ongoing programs
Collection of river garbage interception data
- regular inspection of garbage treatment facilities and sites (landfills, transfer stations, etc.) along coasts and river banks, and supervising local governments to conduct the closing, equipment maintenance, waste and dumping management at landfills along riverbanks, coasts and areas under the standard flood submerge level
- assisting local governments with recycling
- totaling the amount of recycling in fishing (and commercial) ports in cities and counties
- supervising coastal and seaside environmental bureaus to conduct beach clean-ups
- urging competent authorities of fishing and commercial ports to clean and maintain harbor environments
- supervising local governments to set up inspection routines in hotspots for dumping coastal and floating garbage and install collection machinery
- strengthening supervision for local governments to properly inspect and manage environments and sanitation in commercial (and fishing) harbors as well as to study how vessels entering harbors dispose of waste
(2) Future programs
- calculating data on river garbage interception and removal
- conducting large-size garbage removal/interception programs
- enhancing plastic container recycling data
- transferring offshore island waste back to Taiwan
Strategy 3: Education and promotion for public participation
(1) Ongoing programs
Ongoing programs include the national adoption system for coastal maintenance, voluntary civic beach clean-ups, the beach currency system in Siaoliuqiu, Strawless March, and voluntary civic street cleaning events. In addition, the EPA conducts the national adoption system for coastal maintenance, supervising oceanside local environmental bureaus to conduct beach clean-ups, and publicizing well-performing beach adopters every season.
(2) Future actions
The EPA will designate target beaches for stricter management, set up a platform that investigates and announces beaches awaiting clean-ups, and facilitate clean-ups by coordinating civic organizations, adopting organizations or bodies, and city and county cleaning units.
Civic organizations continue to organize beach clean-up events in pollution hotspots plagued with marine waste.
III. Research and investigation
Strategy 1: Understanding coastal and marine pollution in Taiwan via research and monitoring
(1) Ongoing programs:
- monitoring and investigations by civic organizations on marine waste
- investigations of impacts of marine waste on wildlife (such as cetaceans)
- international investigation of land-to-ocean marine waste
- phased investigation and monitoring of significant coasts
(2) Future actions
- phased investigation and monitoring of sources and composition of major marine garbage
- the first rapid beach survey on waste across Taiwan in June 2018
- investigation of impacts on living organisms and ecosystems from marine waste
- investigation of impacts on human societies and economy from marine waste
- investigation and calculation of waste from rivers and large ditches
- Kuroshio's Voyage: Investigation of microplastic beads in Taiwan by sailing around the island
Strategy 2: Education and promotion for public participation
- Ocean Love Tour, held by the Taiwan Marine Waste Information Platform
- continuation and expansion of inviting the public to participate in marine waste monitoring
- Kuroshio's Voyage Plus: Expositions and speeches across Taiwan
IV. Expansion of collaboration and participation
Strategy 1: Expansion and strengthening of multilateral collaboration
(1) Ongoing programs: The Taiwan Marine Debris Governance Platform, and regularly experience exchanges on marine waste control inside and outside Taiwan, such as the 2017 Marine Waste Symposium
(2) Future actions
Exchanges on marine waste issues with Southeast Asia: Frequent international exchanges, forums, and visits on marine waste issues in Southeast Asia
Overseas visits: Participation in international marine waste forums or overseas tours, for example Greenpeace, Tse-Xin Organic Agriculture Foundation, and the Society of Wilderness went to the Sixth International Marine Waste Seminar in 2018, and the Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association participated in an international meeting on at-source plastic reduction and zero-waste
(3) Launch of conversations with China on marine waste management via economic platforms such as Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), city-to-city memorandums, and exchanges and visits among civic organizations
(4) Strengthening marine waste awareness, training for government officials and civil servants to understand better the severity and urgency of marine waste.
Strategy 2: Expansion of public awareness and social concerns
(1) Ongoing programs: Puppet show tours depicting plastic waste in the oceans, garbage discovery tours, and avant-garde beach clean-ups
(2) Future actions:
All organizations' environmental education programs that focus on marine waste are eligible to apply for the EPA's Subsidization and Recruitment Plan for Civic Organizations and Schools to Organize Environmental Education.
"Salute to the Ocean," an interdepartmental effort
(1) Clear designation and delegation of coordination and execution responsibilities for coastal cleaning and maintenance to ensure garbage-free beaches
The Executive Yuan approved the "Salute to the Ocean" Coastal Cleaning and Maintenance Plan (2020 to 2023) on 7 May 2020. The program is jointly carried out by nine government agencies, including the Ministry of the Interior (MOI), the Ministry of Transportation and Communication (MOTC), the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), the Ministry of National Defense (MND), the Ministry of Finance (MOF), the Council of Agriculture (COA), the Ocean Affairs Council (OAC), the Ministry of Education (MOE), and the EPA. The participating agencies: take inventory of work items in the program such as coast clean-ups and source control; collaborate with local governments; and, establish a system consisting of regular, immediate, and emergency clean-ups. It is hoped that every inch of the entire 1,988 square kilometers of coastal lands in Taiwan can be cleaned up via such a system. Both the central and local governments have since 2020 invested labor and budgetary resources to maintain coasts under their respective jurisdiction, resulting in the collection of over 89,000 metric tons of garbage.
(2) Gradual reduction of coastal garbage via source reduction
Waste reduction from source includes incentives for recycling fishing nets and tools, reuse of Styrofoam, interception and removal of river waste, etc. The EPA is currently drafting a contract to jointly supply used Styrofoam as oyster racks. It is also setting up channels and mechanisms for proper recycling and reuse (for example making a keyboard and mouse with waste Styrofoam). So far, 5,103 collection spots in artificial facilities, such as pumps, interception gates, bridge piers, and drainage outfalls, have been set up at river sections before waterways join, along with pollution interception ropes in 62 spots in different river sections. In these locations, the EPA has been intercepting and removing garbage and pollution from rivers, resulting in collection of 11,209 metric tons of garbage in 2020, and setting a great example of cutting down marine waste at source.
Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, May 2021