Aiming for zero waste, the EPA actively implements many reforms in industrial waste control. Programs like industrial waste control and clearance and enhancement of waste reutilization technology are implemented to push local environmental industries to transform their operations. And the development of advanced recycling and reuse technology is encouraged to strengthen reuse management. All measures currently carried out fall under four principles: strengthening reuse control, product flow tracking and control, management of clearance and treatment facilities, and capacity checkup and improvement strategies.
The UN's Earth Summit in June 1992 listed sustainable development as part of Agenda 21, emphasizing that the world should value international environmental conventions and strive toward sustainable development. With rising global attention on related issues, Taiwan finished drafting the Sustainable Development Implementation Guidelines in 2000, which specify zero waste as the highest guiding principle in waste management.
The Waste Disposal Act (廢棄物清理法) is the legal base for industrial waste recycling and reuse in Taiwan. The following are the four major parts planned under the Act:
A. Strengthening of reuse control
Article 39 of the Waste Disposal Act specifies that industrial waste reuse is to be implemented according to the central competent authorities' regulations. By the end of February 2021, 10 government agencies had announced a total of 13 regulations on the reuse of 89 categories of industrial wastes. They included the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), the Council of Agriculture (COA), the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW), the Ministry of the Interior (MOI), the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), the Ministry of Finance (MOF), the Ministry of Education (MOE), the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), the National Communications Commission (NCC), and the EPA.
To facilitate recycling and reuse as well as meet the needs in actual practice, the EPA revised the Management Regulations for Reuse of Common Industrial Wastes (共通性事業廢棄物再利用管理辦法). In line with the policy of transforming flammable wastes into fuels, the revisions mainly concern waste plastics, which must comply with food safety regulations when reused as food containers. Reuse categories and controls are also added concerning dried waste chemicals in fire extinguishers.
B. Product flow tracking and control
The flows of all reuse products are to be registered online, according to the relevant individual or standard regulations of all industry competent authorities like the MOEA, the MOST, the EPA, and the MOHW's permit projects. And based on the MOHW's reuse-related restaurant and medical regulations, the MOI's reuse regulations concerning public sewage, and the NCC's relevant regulations, the sales of reuse products and where they go are to be recorded as well.
Article 39-1 of the Waste Disposal Act mandates that the EPA should announce the types of wastes whose flows are to be traced and that competent industry authorities are to trace such flows and monitor the wastes if necessary. As a result, a list of industrial waste reuse products whose flows are to be traced was announced by the EPA on 9 January 2018 and became effective 1 August that same year. If coal ash, waste casting sand, electric arc furnace flags from steel refineries are used to make reuse products like pavement materials or base- or bottom-grade aggregate materials or used for these two purposes, the competent industry authorities are to monitor how the reuse is carried out to prevent environmental pollution caused by misuse.
The EPA continues assessing and formulating new announcements concerning categories of wastes to be traced. On 13 December 2020, controls on reuse of electric sensor furnace slags, chemical steel furnace slags, and waste spray sand were preannounced to avoid misuse or prevent them from contaminating the environment and those with complicated processes and sources reused as controlled low strength materials (CLSMs). As for waste-casting sand and wastes permitted for reuse in certain unique products whose reuse products are utilized as CLSMs, it has been decided that the final flows are to be tracked to ensure proper utilization of relevant reuse products.
C. Management of clearance and treatment facilities
There are various measures for complete control of clearance control operations, post-permit controls, facility capacity enhancement, strengthening of reused wastes clearance, and establishing facilities' voluntary management. The EPA is formulating draft guidelines for permit and evaluation concerning government or private waste clearance facilities and designing an assessment system to improve facility management.
Collaboration with local governments in 2020 had helped set up eight treatment facilities, increasing the annual treatment capacity by 300,000 metric tons. By November 2020, there were 190 such facilities with a combined annual capacity reaching 9.12 million metric tons. The EPA will strive for a balance between supply and demand and reasonable pricing in the waste clearance market by continuing to ask the MOEA and other agencies to make available unused land, helping set up other treatment facilities and increase treatment capacities.
A set of guidelines for treatment facilities on regular sludge treatment permits has been announced as a reference for competent authorities to handle and evaluate documents from sludge treatment facilities when they apply for treatment permits. The final goal is to raise the competent authorities’ evaluation standards on applications for waste treatment permits.
D. Capacity check-up and improvement strategies
The EPA is strengthening collection and statistic research of baseline data by continually taking inventory of industrial wastes. In 2020, 44,304 waste source enterprises of the announced industries registered the waste they produced, which amounted to 20.03 million metric tons. More than 92% of that was regular industrial wastes (18.5 metric tons), and 7.61% was harmful (1.53 metric tons). Flow tracking registration shows reuse as the most significant secondary usages, where 16.94 metric tons (84.58%) of industrial wastes were repurposed.
The promotion of transforming flammable industrial wastes into energy, resources, and fuels was also carried out in 2020. Flammable organic wastes like waste plastics, fibers (fabrics), and paper mixtures are turned into solid renewable fuels (SRF) for boilers. Meanwhile, the EPA is searching existing industrial boilers and cement kilns to use these SRFs as alternative fuels and helping enterprises set up specialized furnaces or equipment.
Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, August 2021
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)