To reduce plastic waste, the EPA promotes the recycling of plastic resources and has thus developed a platform for connecting both upstream and downstream enterprises, such as hypermarkets, logistics enterprises, as well as clearance and recycling organizations. This will allow for plastic wrapping with recycling value to become a reusable material. Initial assessments estimate that 1,700 metric tons of waste plastic wrapping can be recycled annually.
Hypermarkets and logistics enterprises use large amounts of plastic wrapping when transporting goods. The plastic wrapping is mixed with labels made of different materials along with tape and waterproofing materials that impact the sorting process. Once plastic wrapping is discarded, it is typically incinerated. The EPA has therefore created a platform to bring together upstream and downstream industries, including hypermarkets, logistics enterprises, and clearance and recycling organizations, in order to ensure that plastic wrapping with recycling value is reused as plastic feedstock material.
The costs of recycling plastic bags and film are currently high due to the complexities of the material and the tendency of being contaminated with oil. However, plastic wrapping used in hypermarkets are made of single material, most often polyethylene (PE), that is resistant to oil and other contaminants. It would be most effective to reclaim this resource if the disposed plastic could be sorted properly at its source. Presently, there are more than 150 hypermarkets in Taiwan that are estimated to produce 1,700 metric tons of waste plastic wrapping per year. The EPA has thus decided to prioritize hypermarkets as plastic wrapping recycling demonstration sites and to connect them with other enterprises for plastic wrapping recycling.
Once plastic wrapping is removed, sorted and then re-packaged, a clearance organization transports it to a recycling organization, which then sorts and breaks the material down further. After it is cleaned, dried and melted, it is turned into pellets. This process transforms the wrapping into recycled plastic feedstock material that can then be used to produce plastic bags, film, containers, and other products. As plastic wrapping recycling demonstration sites, hypermarkets must improve their processes of removing plastic wrapping. They must remove any labels or tape, and store the plastic separately. This entails enhanced employee training. Meanwhile, clearance enterprises can take into consideration the light weight of the plastic film, the puffy nature of the product, and the reasonable allocation of compactor trucks to save on the costs of shipping. Recycling enterprises can also have label-removing equipment to remove labels and tape to increase the quality of the recycled material.
The EPA noted that through this demonstration plan and by encouraging more enterprises to follow through on their corporate social responsibility, the EPA will further promote plastic wrapping recycling by bringing in more hypermarkets and logistics enterprises to learn from the procedures at demonstration sites. This will further boost plastic resource recycling, by allowing more people to become familiar with Taiwan’s plastic recycling technologies and join in on creating a circular economy.
Excerpt from Environmental Policy Monthly, 22 (8)
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)