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Recent Issues By Topics
Recycling EPA Project Develops Fabrics Made with Plastic Bottles from Beach Cleanups2021-01-31

In 2020, the EPA implemented the Demonstration and Promotion Project for the High-Quality Recycling of Marine Wastes, putting out a challenge to completely use the waste plastic bottles collected from beach cleanups all over Taiwan and produce clothing fabrics using the highest quality recycling technologies. This project was led by the EPA, which invited local environmental agencies, eight enterprises in recycling, disposal and textile industries, as well as international certification companies to join the efforts.

The EPA stated that the shirts are called Shiun Bao Yi, a name that carries the meaning of recycling and reuse and emphasizes that the materials come from the ocean or seaside. Except for the necessary elastic fabrics, 96% of the materials used are made from waste plastic bottles collected from the ocean and beaches. They were manufactured with the most advanced technology in the world.

The project was launched to allow Taiwan's recycling and textile industries to take on and employ more advanced technology currently available. Another reason was to use the credibility of the EPA's Recycling Fund Management Board to establish the world's first marine recycling certification system. The system will allow textile enterprises around the globe to purchase from Taiwanese manufacturers certified recycled materials made from marine waste, or be inspired to use Taiwan's certification standards as a model and join the efforts to protect the ocean. The Shiun Bao Yi certification system entered the review process in November 2020 and is expected to be officially launched in mid-2021.

Companies that participated in the research and development included Oriental Green Materials, True Young Textile, Tung Ho Textile, and Super Textile, all of which collaborated with German certification institute TV Rheinland. From beach cleanups to storing, sorting, breaking, spinning, and weaving, the Shiun Bao Yi R&D team worked to ensure the input and output records of all stages and the standard operating procedures were compliant to the certification requirements to ensure that the end products were made almost completely with waste plastic bottles sourced from the marine environment.

Except the elastic yarns added to increase their durability, 96% of the content of the shirts was made from marine waste plastic bottles. The success of the project was mainly due to the collaboration and strength of the recycling and textile industries. The collection of marine waste plastic bottles had become difficult as local governments had fewer beach cleanup events in the first half of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the project was made possible thanks to the environmental bureaus in seven offshore islands, including Lienchiang and Kinmen, and those of the seaside counties and cities who cooperated and continued hiring workers for coastal cleanups, and the coastal watch or patrol volunteers who kept up their cleanup efforts. The marine wastes were collected and handed over to professional processors for crushing.

Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, Jan 2021

Soil & Groundwater EPA Strives on After 20 Years of Efforts in Soil Pollution Prevention2021-01-31

For two decades, the EPA has been a soil doctor and been through innumerable pollution incidents. Through the implementation of four major policy areas, namely regulations and systems, soil and water management, key technologies, and remediation and rehabilitation, the EPA has provided remediation services all over the nation. As of 30 November 2020, a total of 8,868 remediation sites had been announced, and 7,064 of which had been improved and taken off the control list. These represent a 79.7% improvement rate, and completed the mission to revive the soil. For the next stage, the EPA is aiming to prevent soil pollutions­, that is to protect soil and keep it from being further harmed.

For this purpose, the EPA has proposed the following three action plans:

Expediting the push for site improvement and the policy tools for site delisting actively formulating strategies to manage 58 sites that require expedited improvement and conduct site-by-site surveys to assist the site polluters and concerned parties. To date, remediation work has been successfully launched at two sites, and five sites have been included in remediation projects for improvement.

Compiling and promoting soil and water conservation technologies providing a channel for polluted sites to find technically capable, reliable enterprises for remediation through a three-stage process: compilation of technologies used in remediation cases in Taiwan, announcement and certification of the remediation technologies and capabilities, and environmental technology verification.

Farmland pollution prevention strategies integrating cross-ministerial data tools in three aspects: gradually ascertaining the distribution characteristics of the pollution sources, clarifying transmission routes and water quality dynamics and confirming the degree of the impacts on farmlands. The EPA will promote early warning systems for farmland pollution prevention and expects to complete the improvement for all polluted farmlands in Taiwan by the end of 2021.

Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, Jan 2021

Recycling EPA Project Develops Fabrics Made with Plastic Bottles from Beach Cleanups2021-01-31

In 2020, the EPA implemented the Demonstration and Promotion Project for the High-Quality Recycling of Marine Wastes, putting out a challenge to completely use the waste plastic bottles collected from beach cleanups all over Taiwan and produce clothing fabrics using the highest quality recycling technologies. This project was led by the EPA, which invited local environmental agencies, eight enterprises in recycling, disposal and textile industries, as well as international certification companies to join the efforts.

The EPA stated that the shirts are called Shiun Bao Yi, a name that carries the meaning of recycling and reuse and emphasizes that the materials come from the ocean or seaside. Except for the necessary elastic fabrics, 96% of the materials used are made from waste plastic bottles collected from the ocean and beaches. They were manufactured with the most advanced technology in the world.

The project was launched to allow Taiwan's recycling and textile industries to take on and employ more advanced technology currently available. Another reason was to use the credibility of the EPA's Recycling Fund Management Board to establish the world's first marine recycling certification system. The system will allow textile enterprises around the globe to purchase from Taiwanese manufacturers certified recycled materials made from marine waste, or be inspired to use Taiwan's certification standards as a model and join the efforts to protect the ocean. The Shiun Bao Yi certification system entered the review process in November 2020 and is expected to be officially launched in mid-2021.

Companies that participated in the research and development included Oriental Green Materials, True Young Textile, Tung Ho Textile, and Super Textile, all of which collaborated with German certification institute TV Rheinland. From beach cleanups to storing, sorting, breaking, spinning, and weaving, the Shiun Bao Yi R&D team worked to ensure the input and output records of all stages and the standard operating procedures were compliant to the certification requirements to ensure that the end products were made almost completely with waste plastic bottles sourced from the marine environment.

Except the elastic yarns added to increase their durability, 96% of the content of the shirts was made from marine waste plastic bottles. The success of the project was mainly due to the collaboration and strength of the recycling and textile industries. The collection of marine waste plastic bottles had become difficult as local governments had fewer beach cleanup events in the first half of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the project was made possible thanks to the environmental bureaus in seven offshore islands, including Lienchiang and Kinmen, and those of the seaside counties and cities who cooperated and continued hiring workers for coastal cleanups, and the coastal watch or patrol volunteers who kept up their cleanup efforts. The marine wastes were collected and handed over to professional processors for crushing.

Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, Jan 2021

Recycling EPA Offers 20% Rewards for Reporting Recycling Fee Evasion2021-01-31

According to Article 16 of the Waste Disposal Act, the manufacturers and importers responsible for recycling waste based on official announcement shall register with the competent authority, report their manufacturing/import volumes regularly, and pay the recycling, clearance and disposal fees accordingly. Roughly 30,000 responsible enterprises are registered at the moment. The EPA has found some enterprises that are required to register but have not registered, or have underreported their manufacturing/import volumes. To prevent underreporting and underpaying the recycling, clearance and disposal fees and ensure fair competition among industries, the EPA not only commissions accounting services to do annual audits but also encourages the public to report on unscrupulous businesses.

The EPA is giving rewards for public reports that contain detailed information and are further confirmed to be true. The rewards will be 20% of the evaded fees that are pursued by the government. Reports can be done through multiple channels, including fax, mail, in person, online (https://recycle.epa.gov.tw/), and QR code. The EPA has received 130 public reports in the past five years and has given out rewards totaling NT$3,300,000.

To disseminate the information regarding the responsibilities of enterprises that are required to pay recycling, clearance and disposal fees, the EPA has put out special reminders on the Recyclable Waste Volume Reporting System. Any person, either a business owner or an employee responsible for reporting the volume, who submits false reports knowingly or makes false records on business documents purposefully can be punished in accordance with Article 48 of the Waste Disposal Act and the Business Entity Accounting Act.

Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, Jan 2021

Environmental Monitoring Air Quality Monitoring Shows Lowered PM2.5 and Ozone in 20202021-01-31

The EPA says that the percentage of days with good air quality index (AQI) has been on the rise in the past five years. The number of days with good and moderate AQI (AQI 100) accounted for over 90% in 2020. The number of red alerts caused by PM2.5 and detected by monitoring stations throughout the country went from 146 in 2019 to 15 in 2020, displaying a significant air quality improvement.

The EPA points out that the decrease in the number of days with poor air quality (AQI > 100, orange alerts indicating unhealthy for sensitive groups) year after year has led to changes in the significance of major pollutants. PM2.5 and eight-hour ozone average concentration had both been main indicator pollutants through the years. However, the percentage of eight-hour ozone concentration as the indicator pollutant had surpassed PM2.5 since 2019 and become the main indicator pollutant for poor air quality. In other words, PM2.5 and its impact has continued to drop while the change or decrease in ozone concentrations has been less obvious.

The percentage of eight-hour ozone concentration as the main pollutant has been on the rise year after year, but in fact the number of orange alert days has gradually decreased in the past two years. Long-term monitoring also shows lowered peak ozone concentrations. A closer look into the changes in ozone concentrations reveals that concentrations of ozone precursors such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic matters have continued to decrease in the past ten years, hence high-concentration ozone was less likely to form and therefore fewer high-concentration ozone episodes occurred. However, lower NOx concentration slowed down ozone depletion causing ozone concentration to increase, and the transboundary ozone has been on the rise, resulting in higher background ozone concentrations.

To investigate the environmental changes that might be related to the improved air quality, the EPA looked into the monitoring data from the Central Weather Bureau (CWB), which shows that the total rainfall decreased and the total hours of low wind speed increased in 2020. Although this meteorological condition is unfavorable for washing away particulate matter in the air or dispersion, the PM2.5 concentration was still lower in 2020 compared to 2019, reflecting that air pollution control was effective. The monitoring results from CWB also show improved visibility in 2020 than in 2019, consistent with what would be expected with lower PM2.5 concentrations.

The EPA has been jointly implementing the Air Pollution Control Action Plan () (2020-2023) with local governments and other central departments to reduce emissions of primary particulate matter, sulfur oxides (SOx), NOx, and volatile organic compounds. The implementation of the Plan was focused on four areas: stationary pollution sources, mobile pollution sources, fugitive pollution sources, and comprehensive management. Under the joint effort, the national average PM2.5 concentration was 15.0g/m3 between 20 January and 20 December 2020, a significant improvement compared to 17.2g/m3 in the same period in 2019. With such achievement, the EPA is expecting to reach the goal of lowering the annual national average concentration of fine particulate matter to 15g/m3 by 2023, and the objective of increasing the number of days with good air quality by 1% year to year and decreasing the number of days with poor air quality by half earlier than planned.

Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, Jan 2021

Feature Article New Measures Effective in January 20212021-01-31

Major policies and measures implemented in January 2021 as below:

1. Enhancing control on vehicle noise with acoustic camera technologies   Control on motor vehicle noise is strengthened by using acoustic cameras to catch violating vehicles. Since 1 January 2021, acoustic cameras have been employed in law enforcement to increase control efficiency.

2.Tightening Effluent Standards     

The Effluent Standards have been tightened since 1 January 2021 with newly added regulations:

(1) Control standards on nine substances used in technology and petrochemical industries, including acrylonitrile and N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP), were newly added.

(2) Control standards on ammonium nitrogen were added for five industries including metal finishing and electroplating, as well as for sewerage systems in industrial parks other than petrochemical industrial parks.

(3) Control standards on ammonium nitrogen and total nitrogen were added for public sewage systems.

(4) True color standards were tightened and standards on free residual chlorine were newly added for 23 industries including tannery and industrial park sewage systems.

(5) Standards on nine heavy metals including cadmium, lead, total chromium, hexavalent chromium, copper, zinc, nickel, selenium, and arsenic have been tightened, and standards on tin have been added for seven industries including wafer manufacturers that handle heavy metals and whose effluents reach a certain scale, and for sewage systems in science parks, petrochemical industrial parks, and other industrial parks.

3. Adding controls for above-ground storage tanks to strengthen soil and groundwater pollution prevention  

The Installation and Maintenance Regulations Concerning Facilities That Prevent Storage Systems from Polluting Groundwater and Monitoring Facilities have been revised to enhance upper-end pollution prevention for above-ground storage tanks. Provisions were added for pollution-preventing facility installation, regular monitoring, and reporting and reference procedures. Enterprises can conduct the monitoring themselves and reporting the responses to protect soil and groundwater resources. All were effective from 1 January 2021.

4. Strengthening controls on nine types of mercury-containing products    

The manufacturing and import of nine types of mercury-containing products are banned from 1 January 2021. These include certain batteries, switches, relays, common-use compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), common-use straight-tube fluorescent lamps, common-use high-pressure mercury-vapor lamps, fluorescent lamps used in electronic monitoring, cosmetics, insecticides/bactericides/partial antibacterial agents, and non-electronic gauging instruments.

5. Adjusting clearance and disposal fee rates for recycling televisions and air conditioning systems  

Television set clearance and disposal fee rates will be adjusted from 1 March 2021. As an example, the fee rates for liquid-crystal-display (LCD) televisions over 27 inches will be increased from NT$275/unit to NT$317/unit. And the fee rates for air conditioners will be increased from NT$297/unit to NT$353/unit.

Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, Jan 2021

Environmental Management Taiwan Keeps Striving to Reduce Carbon Despite Rankings by Global Performance Index2021-01-31

The 2020 EPI, a ranking index with international credibility, was released jointly by Yale University and Columbia University in June 2020. Taiwan was ranked 46th in the climate change category among the 180 countries that were evaluated, and only 2nd to Japan in the Asia-Pacific. Different international climate change performance indexes use different statistics, evaluation categories, evaluation and calculation methods, hence producing varying results. The EPA respects the outcomes of these indexes and will keep up its efforts on carbon reduction.

The EPA pointed out that German watch was not able to access information on Taiwan from international conventions or the UN system since Taiwan is not a UN member. In 2020 the EPA took the initiative to communicate with German watch and provided it with Taiwan's climate change policies and statistics on greenhouse gas emission for its reference. It resulted in Taiwan's rise of two places in the overall performance ranking and a significant leap in the category of climate policy compared to the year before. However, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea did not fare well in greenhouse gas emission as the rating method was mainly based on the emission per capita and its weight reached as high as 30%. India and China, both with continually rising emission, were ranked 10th and 33rd respectively in this category.

The EPI 2020, published by Yale University and Columbia University in June 2020, evaluated the average annual growth of the emissions of different greenhouse gases from 2008 to 2017 in the category of climate change, where Taiwan was placed among the middle-upper rankings. In addition, Taiwan was at the top with three other nations in decoupling economic growth from carbon emissions. Together, these put Taiwan at the 46th place out of a total 180 evaluated countries, just behind Japan in the Asian Pacific region, for the overall performance.

For the renewable energy rankings, the EPI 2020 referenced the statistics from 2018, the year in which Taiwan was affected by a drought and the hydropower generation decreased by 17.7% (970 million kwh). However, solar energy, one of the main renewable energies promoted in energy transition, grew by 62.6% (1.04 billion kwh) in 2018. Therefore, the share of renewable energy in the overall energy mix remained at 4.6%, the same as that of 2017. This shows Taiwan had seen initial achievements in energy transition.

As the regulations and development environment for renewable energy gradually improved, solar energy output continued to grow by 48% in 2019 (1.3 billion kwh) and wind power generation also grew by 10.9% (190 million kwh) following the completion of the first offshore wind farm. Both helped to bring the share of renewable energy up to 5.6% in 2019.

Climate change is a cross-border issue. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change emphasizes the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and individual national conditions, and uses the total global emissions to urge all countries to cut down emissions collectively. Over the years, being outside of international mechanisms, resources or assistance, Taiwan still actively promoted energy transition, pragmatically set the goals for the second phase of emission control, and initiated the revision of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act.

Recently the international community has successively proposed the 2050 net zero greenhouse gas emission targets. Since this is a cross-ministerial and cross-sectorial issue, when the Legislative Yuan reviewed the EPA budget recently, it also made a resolution to request the EPA to invite relevant ministries to jointly investigate the paths and analyze scenarios for Taiwan to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA stated that the administration and relevant ministries have started the assessment for the paths and will continue to collect opinions from all sectors.

Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, Jan 2021

Environmental Management Taiwan and U.K. Join Hands to Launch First Report on Carbon Pricing2021-01-31

The EPA explains that the cooperation with the international research think tank directly represents Taiwan’s stance on climate change and allows joint evaluation of feasible reduction measures. The EPA will continue promoting future international collaboration on the foundation of this experience. The report adopted a qualitative research approach and covers a comprehensive analysis on Taiwan’s economy and greenhouse gas emissions. The report also evaluates the market readiness of Taiwan’s government and industries, and analyzes the most affected industrial sectors.

According to the report, carbon pricing instruments should be gradually implemented as a policy tool in the face of GHG reduction challenges. The report estimates that carbon pricing can contribute to reaching national GHG emission reduction goals and support green growth and transition. The report also indicates that Taiwan can start developing its carbon pricing policies by implementing a carbon levy. It recommends setting a relatively low carbon levy level in the beginning and gradually increasing the price with a clear trajectory to ensure incentives for emission reduction.

In addition, the report points out that carbon pricing has been widely adopted all over the world. Currently, there are more than 60 countries that are implementing a carbon pricing instrument. If Taiwan was to adopt the policy design for implementing an emissions trading system (ETS) at this juncture, Taiwan may face challenges such as insufficient market liquidity or reduced market competitiveness. On the other hand, imposing carbon levies is comparatively simple and can be executed based on Taiwan’s experiences in energy and environmental taxes.

The collaboration on the report between Taiwan and the U.K. was brought about by the British Office in Taiwan. Josh Burke, author of the report, was invited to visit Taiwan early this year to share U.K.’s policy making experiences in carbon pricing, which could allow Taiwan to learn and improve its own carbon pricing policies. The EPA anticipates a long-term collaboration between Taiwan and the U.K. in climate change.

Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, Jan 2021

EIA EPA Reviews and Supervises Offshore Wind Power Projects2021-01-31

The EPA explains that to achieve the national renewable energy goals by 2025, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) has been implementing its offshore wind power projects in three stages: demonstration projects, potential site selection and block developments. The EPA conducted consultations on the Policy Assessment Report Regarding Offshore Wind Power Block Development submitted by the MOEA on 28 December 2016. Any future EIA reviews for the development projects are to be conducted in accordance with the conclusions from the SEA. The conclusions also incorporated pledges to serve as development standards for developers and basis for EIA supervisions.

The EPA indicates that offshore wind power generation is different from any other forms of coastal development activities that Taiwan has experienced in the past. Therefore, in the review conclusions, the EPA requested the submission of environmental impact survey reports on bird habitats. In addition, the development projects are to measure underwater noise based on the measuring method devised by the National Institute of Environmental Analysis. The current underwater noise threshold stipulates that the sound exposure level (SEL) shall not exceed 160 dB (average SEL measured within 30 seconds of pile driving) at a distance of 750 meters from the alert zone. Some citizens and private organizations have expressed concern about whether the current threshold is enough to protect Chinese White Dolphins from harmful effects. Hence, the EPA also requested that the EIA documents of individual projects shall stipulate that when the competent authority or the industry competent authority develops stricter underwater noise thresholds, these thresholds shall be adopted accordingly. This way the EPA will be able to carry out supervision based on the stricter thresholds when they come up in the future. 

In addition, the EPA worked with the Ocean Conservation Administration (OCA) and created the Taiwan Cetacean Observer Operation Manual as one of the pledge documents for EIAs in marine ecology and conservation and to provide a consistent standard for developers. The EPA also enhanced EIA supervision on the construction of wind farms through law enforcement technology tools and cross-ministerial cooperation. Moreover, to reduce the environmental impacts of development activities, the EPA arranged assistance from experts and scholars to supervise developers to ensure they carry out environmental protection measures. When any evidence of violation is detected during the supervisions, developers are to be penalized in accordance with the law. The EPA cited the example of the Formosa 1 Offshore Wind Farm in Miaoli County, where the numbers of observation boats or observers were found to be insufficient in 2019. After the violations were confirmed, violators were fined NT$1.5 million, the maximum fine under the Environmental Impact Assessment Act.

The EPA states that the wind farms that have passed the EIA reviews will start construction in 2021 in the order of their commissioning year. As for the developers who plan to build new wind farms and have started EIA processes, the EPA will conduct EIA reviews in accordance with the proper procedures, and supervise the development projects after they pass the reviews to ensure the implementation of EIA pledges. This way a win-win situation between economic development and environmental protection will be achieved.

Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, Jan 2021