Through the implementation of the 2018-2020 Resource Recycling and Reuse Plan (107至109年資源回收再利用推動計畫), the EPA expects Taiwan to advance toward a circular economy and achieve the sustainability goal of maximizing resource utilization and minimizing the impacts on the environment. In the future, the EPA will continue to guide enterprises to increase the value of reused resources, assist enterprises in resource recycling and reuse, and promote cooperation between industries. The EPA is also encouraging industry and academia to invest in technological development and applications to help upgrade the recycling industry.
Launched in 1997, the EPA’s Four-in-one Resource Recycling Plan (資源回收四合一計畫) combines the efforts of four forces: communities, recycling enterprises, local sanitation crews, and the Recycling Fund. Its outstanding results, such as achieving a proper waste treatment rate of over 99%, are recognized the world over.
The implementation of the general waste recycling and reuse policy focuses on two tracks: resource recycling and reuse and recycling management. The goal of "strengthening recycling management" is to increase the recycling volume. The relevant measures and achievements currently being promoted are mainly as follows:
(1) Thirty-three regulated recyclable waste items under 13 categories have been announced by the EPA, and 25,444 enterprises (37,966 registrations) have registered as responsible enterprises as of the end of May 2020. From January to December 2019, the total reported operating volume was 749,855 metric tons with 1,722,378 entries of reported data audited and filed. The goal for the year was to audit the operating volume of more than 4,600 enterprises (20% of the total). From January to December 2019, the EPA completed the audit for the operating volume of 5,994 enterprises (26.5% of the total), exceeding the annual goal by 30.3%.
(2) Building storage sites: From 2020, construction of storage sites have been implemented in cities and counties. Subsidies have also been provided to build recycling and storage sites for those who need to store recyclables temporarily but have no place to store them. Furthermore, it will improve the efficiency of resource recycling operation and promote the high quality of material classification products, so as to effectively expand their decontamination and reuse channels.
(3) Enhancing recycling by sanitation crews: Beginning from January 2020, sanitation crews were incentivized to collect and sort 14 materials or items with low recycling rates. Subsidies are calculated based on estimated amounts recycled and sorted as well as set unit prices, so the recycling rates can be raised via goal-oriented management.
(4) Optimizing recycling and storage sites: Local governments were subsidized to optimize and improve the facilities of existing recycling and storage sites, change the stereotypes of the recycling and storage sites that citizens hold, make the working environment of sanitation crews more friendly, strengthen the operation of existing storage sites, increase the recycling volume and enhance the image of recycling and storage sites..
(5) The Recycling Care Program, launched in 2019, provides self-employed recyclers who sell recyclables with monthly subsidies of up to NT$3,500 per person. Local environmental bureaus are allowed to subsidize, by themselves or by commissioning welfare organizations, 8,900 registered recyclers. Starting from August 2019, self-employed recyclers are eligible for the subsidies. Additional subsidies are given for less frequently recycled items such as electric fans, laptops, tablets, and keyboards. These measures aim to increase the income of self-employed recyclers as well as the amount of waste recycled.
In addition, in response to the COVID-19 epidemic, the monthly subsidy limit per person has been increased up to NT$5,000 from May 2020 .
(7) The EPA has launched the Paper Tableware Recycling-Friendly Shops Subsidization Plan (紙餐具循環友善店家補助計畫) to encourage proper sorting and recycling of waste paper tableware. From 1 February to 31 December 2020, local environmental bureaus are taking inventory of eateries, providing needed guidance, and listing eateries for management. In addition, more demonstration sites will be set up to observe the recycling and sorting behaviors of the public. The observation will serve as reference for future legislation and policymaking. Meanwhile, authorities are to show target enterprises how the Plan works, offer assistance, and subsidize installation of recycling equipment. Subsidies under this Plan amount to NT$49.04 million in total.
The Plan’s first trial run will audit and give advice to the targets, of which 7,210 have been registered. By promoting the setup of waste paper tableware recycling amenities and the “clearing, sorting, and stacking” recycling steps, the EPA hopes to alter the habits of those who dine out, raise the public’s awareness of waste paper tableware recycling, and increase the recycling rate from the 64% in 2018 to 80% in 2021.
Future outlook: Increasing recycling and reuse
(1) The EPA will assist enterprises to utilize recycled resources in Taiwan instead of exporting them, leading to higher profits and added value for the resources. Differentiated subsidization will be provided to enterprises to encourage technological development and strategy forming, creating positive competition for continuous progress and technology upgrades.
(2) Collaboration between different industries will be promoted. The EPA will continue to assist waste processors to work with reuse facilities or manufacturers that are able to further increase the value of recycled materials so as to form industry chains. Processing enterprises will also be eligible for higher subsidies once their applications are reviewed and approved by the EPA.
(3) Encouraging technological development and applications
To encourage academic institutions and enterprises to invest in the research and development of recycling technologies, attract talent to join the ranks of basic research, and open up more reuse channels, the EPA will publicly solicit innovative plans and R&D projects for the recycling and processing of recyclables, and subsidize public and private universities, research institutes, and waste processors to carry out recycling-related innovation, research and development. The purpose is to combine the forces of industry, government and academia to carry out the effort.
Excerpt from Environmental Policy Monthly, 23 (6)
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)