In recent years, the world has been increasingly focused on waste plastic disposal with many proposals concerning recycling. The EPA aims to facilitate various industries’ practices in plastic recycling and reuse and reduce disposal via incineration. Assistance has been provided to industries, including key players like ASE Technology and TSMC, to reexamine the nature and types of waste plastics and put recyclable plastics back into industries for reutilization. This will lead to a high ratio of waste plastic reuse and eventually a circular economy.
Setting up the Office of Resource Circulation to achieve complete resource circulation
Recently, countries around the globe like nations in the EU, Japan, and Korea have proposed resource- and recycling-related policies one after another. There is an even more urgent need for Taiwan to fully recycle and utilize resources and materials, as 76% of resources needed in Taiwan are imported. In light of that, on 1 July 2021, the EPA set up the Office of Resource Circulation to specifically focus on the overall planning and management of resource management. Categorized into four groups -- biological materials, organic chemical materials, metal and chemical substances, and inorganic recycled aggregates -- all materials and resources are incorporated for thorough management throughout their life cycles. The Office is fully committed to turning all wastes into usable energy and resources to optimize reutilization and minimize waste disposal, achieving total resource circulation.
In addition, ten agencies -- including offices set up by the Renewable Resource Recycling and Reuse Promotion Committee to handle the recycling of different materials, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Council of Agriculture -- are joining hands to promote resource recycling.
Establishing a resource recycling chain in all aspects of everyday life and various industries
Facing issues like limited fossil resources, over-use of plastics, and large volumes of garbage, the UN is drafting an agreement on plastics. Global organizations like the MacArthur Foundation are proposing plans for waste reduction, material replacement, and recycling. The EPA already has policies in place to reduce plastics in everyday lives of people and recycle packaging materials in retail stores. Now, its endeavors are being extended to cover industries. Other than demonstrating the current recycling results in various industries, the EPA will establish a resource recycling chain by further connecting upstream, midstream, and downstream industries and enhancing resource circulation efficiency via technology research and regulatory updates.
The EPA has been examining common waste plastics generated by different industries. In the case of the technology industry, many items were once not reused at all except for power-generation via incineration. Now recycling and reuse enterprises are able to identify materials and assess their recyclability. A model can be set up to take in recyclable materials so that more materials can be reutilized. With innovative recycling and reuse technologies, reuse capabilities for plastics are increased by inventories and collection and sorting systems adopted by industries for plastic wastes.
Innovating and developing reuse technologies for plastic wastes
Taiwan possesses mature technologies for plastic recycling and continues to develop innovative products and technologies. For instance, Horng En Plastics has introduced the recycling of marine waste to increase benefits for the environment, while Da Fon Environmental Technology helps production sources to reduce waste and reutilize post-consumer recycled plastics (PCRs) right on the site. Chien An has developed technology to separate aluminum-plastic composite materials, and Ampack produces customized products with recycled plastic packaging materials from production sources. All the above contribute to optimization of existing plastic circulation routes.
Approximately 28% of the 240,000 metric tons of plastic waste annually generated by domestic enterprises are reutilized. To increase the reuse percentage of plastics, the EPA is actively taking resource circulation models used for residents’ daily living and expanding their use in various industries and endeavors to establish a plastic recycling and reuse network among industries. In this way, industries can transform themselves and solve difficult plastic waste problems through the introduction of circulation models.
ASE Technology sets up recycling center and TSMC reutilizes 8,000 metric tons of waste plastics
TSMC aiwan Sem(Ticonductor Manufacturing Company Ltd.) is an example of the technology industry taking innovative measures. With its material packaging guidebook to regulate suppliers concerning the use of materials, TSMC has recycling and reuse enterprises stationed in their factories to help sort wastes, combining innovative technologies to develop more than 20 products from recycled materials. Such efforts led to the reutilization of 8,000 metric tons of waste plastics in 2021, with a reutilization ratio of 66%. Meanwhile, ASE Technology (Advanced Semiconductor Engineering, Inc.) has set up a recycling center, which collects waste plastics generated by all factories. These plastics are then sorted into many items for reuse based on their material characteristics and nature. The result was the reutilization of 4,300 metric tons of waste plastics in 2021 with a reutilization ratio of 68%.
Replicating successful circulation models among industries via waste reduction at both production and disposal ends
In recent years many industries have been working on waste reduction throughout their production chains in order to achieve sustainable development and meet their corporate social responsibilities (CSR). The EPA notes that waste reduction requires effort at both the production and disposal ends, in other words, less use of materials will reduce the amount of waste at the production end, and proper sorting will increase reuse at the disposal end. Via efforts at both ends, industries can reexamine the categories and natures of their waste plastics before adjusting reuse channels to lessen the workloads of incinerators. In the future, successful circulation models can be replicated in different industries to help enhance recycling capacities and benefits and allow more resources to be appropriately utilized.
Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, May 2022
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)