EPA Project Develops Fabrics Made with Plastic Bottles from Beach Cleanups


The issue of marine waste has attracted international attention in recent years. Since Taiwan is an island nation surrounded by the ocean, the EPA has been working hard to mitigate marine pollution. On 28 December 2020, the EPA presented Shiun Bao Yi shirts, which had 96% content made from marine waste plastic bottles, to display the concerted efforts of the national team formed by members of domestic recycling and textile industries. It was also to demonstrate the synergies achieved by industry-government cooperation and cross-industry alliances and Taiwan's resolve to protect the ocean.

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

Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)
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