Taiwan has been actively working on various resource recycling projects as well as strategic plans for its transformation to zero-emissions. On 1 July 2021, the EPA announced the Office of Resource Circulation and the Office of Climate Change, through which the EPA will build a more sustainable society in Taiwan by thoroughly reviewing policies and regulations, integrating administrative resources, and effectively promoting recycling and carbon reduction measures.
Aiming at "maximizing recycling and minimizing waste disposal," the Office of Resource Circulation will strive toward total resource recycling, in which all of Taiwan's resources are effectively utilized and waste cut down. Meanwhile, the Office of Climate Change will take a global perspective while working in local communities, and will kick off Taiwan's transformation to zero-emission, joining the world in mitigating climate change.
The Office of Resource Circulation pushes for total resource recycling
The EPA noted that the EU, Japan, Korea, and several other nations have actively proposed many action plans and projects in order to fulfill their resource cycling visions in the next decade. Taiwan, facing challenges such as insufficient natural resources, waste disposal and recycling channels, is also seeking revolutionary and effective ways of recycling and reuse. The Office of Resource Circulation will re-organize the framework and delegated authorities under the existing regulations, evaluate and analyze policies and resources, and strengthen regulations on the management of reusable resources. Its responsibilities are to integrate policies and capacities and enhance resource recycling so that reused products can be properly utilized, aiming to ultimately achieve source reduction and resource recycling.
There are five teams under the Office of Resource Circulation, which respectively work on policy planning, circular industry management, organic resources, inorganic resources, and metal and chemical resources. Taiwan's challenges include the fact that it has insufficient natural resources and imports 76% of needed raw materials. This exposure to risk of its raw resource supplies may lead to economic burdens. To reduce such risk, comprehensive evaluation and analysis is needed regarding disposed resources, reutilization technology, and channels that match resources with suitable technology. Certain types of waste that are difficult to be disposed of or lack reutilization potential also face problems such as quality control and appropriate reutilization channels.
The "policy planning" team will evaluate and implement related policies and set up and utilize a recycling database, while the "circular industry management" team is in charge of comprehensive industrial waste management. On the other hand, the "organic resources," "inorganic resources," and "metal and chemical resources" teams will evaluate and analyze these wastes and target the recycling operations thereof. They will develop reutilization technology and establish channels to match users with needed technology.
The EPA said that, through comprehensive reviews of core recycling operations, it would evaluate and revise relevant regulations, expedite budget integration, and establish an economic development model for continuous material recycling and reuse. In the future, the Office of Resource Circulation will strengthen regulatory controls of reusable resources, facilitate recycling and reuse with financial measures, and levy industrial waste fees through legislation. Other responsibilities include adding both quality standards and certification systems for reused products as well as tracking the uses and whereabouts of products. In this way, suitable places will be found for all reusable products. Under such efforts toward a circular economy and waste reduction and reuse, Taiwan will be able to lower the environmental burdens caused by raw material consumption and gradually achieve resource sustainability.
The Office of Climate Change to Lead Transformation Toward Zero-emissions
Human activities and intensity of production across all industries have been much reduced due to lockdowns, remote meetings and limited travel in response to the worldwide pandemic in 2020. However, the EPA pointed out that the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere has continued to rise and break historic records. Not only did the UN clearly state that 2021 is a key year for the future survival of all living organisms on Earth, but President Tsai Ing-Wen also declared on Earth Day, 22 April, that "transformation to zero-emissions by 2050 is the goal of both the world and Taiwan." On the same day, Premier Tseng-Chang Su ordered to reevaluate the reduction goals set in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act . Additionally, it is imperative for Taiwan to take on all relevant initiatives now that many countries have adopted various reduction measures. One of those is the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, which the EU plans to promulgate in 2023.
The EPA explained that the founding of the Office of Climate Change is Taiwan's response to the international community's expectations regarding climate change mitigation. The Offices establishment also fulfills a promise of the President and the Premier on carbon reduction in Taiwan. The first task of the Office of Climate Change after its founding is to complete the revision of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act, followed by more communications about the carbon levy system, about which stakeholders are very concerned. Moreover, the EPA will begin formulating the interdepartmental action plan on climate change mitigation.
The four teams under the Office of Climate Change will respectively target policy planning, emission management, reduction actions, and climate change mitigation. Main tasks include revising the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act, formulating zero-emission measures, setting up a carbon pricing mechanism, and properly dealing with the international border adjustment mechanism. The Office will work on strengthening public awareness and education on carbon reduction, developing reduction measures and adjusting disclosure systems for industries, and integrating interdepartmental mitigation efforts.
Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, July 2021
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)