With increasing attention on the issue of marine waste in recent years, at the 2019 UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) as many as 170 nations promised to take action to drastically reduce single-use plastic products before 2030. At the G20 Summit in the same year, they also agreed to implement the Blue Ocean Vision, which aims to completely eliminate marine plastic litter. Since then, reducing plastic garbage entering oceans has become a mutual challenge taken up by Taiwan and all other countries.
Penghu, Taiwan’s largest offshore island, was chosen as the site to showcase the results of recycling and plastic reduction in Taiwan. Led by EPA Deputy Minister Shen Chih-hsiu, a delegation of over 50 members arrived on the island to witness the local government's efforts to promote recycling and the building of an island community surrounded by plastic-free waters. Delegates comprised ambassadors and envoys from seven countries, such as the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis; Taiwan-based representatives and vice representatives from eight countries, including Vietnam and EU member states, and; officials from the EPA, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, and the Council of Agriculture. The delegation toured various recycling facilities, saw displays of garbage reduction at source, and exchanged ideas during a forum.
The delegation viewed low-carbon communities and recycling and reuse facilities in Nanliao; the Water Refill program in Dushing Tenth Village; Chung-cheng environment-friendly business district in Magong, and; smart recycling machines for source reduction, recycling, and disposal of marine waste. Achievements were displayed from two major programs: “Recycling's New Values” and “Smart Practices of a Less Plastic Lifestyle”. The first program focuses on plastic reduction at source, reusable cup rentals, smart water fountains connected to the Internet of Thing (IoT), materials made from oyster shells, artistic and creative new products made from a waste white lead tree, Styrofoam recycling actions, creative designs with floating garbage, and plastic reduction in tourism. The latter program focuses on making plastic-reduction actions part of daily life, showing artistic pieces made of waste glass, furniture, and waste buoys.
There were five topics discussed during the forum, including source reduction and recycling policies, plastic reduction achievements in a circular economy, new green technology, recycling in villages and communities, and smart recycling machines on offshore islands. Representatives from local communities, civic organizations, and the Penghu County government were invited to talk about their experiences and how circular economy policies, such as those for marine waste reuse, were actually carried out.
The Pescadores Islands, where Penghu County is situated, is Taiwan’s largest offshore island group, with diverse marine organisms and ecological resources. Via the tour, the EPA hoped to instill in the public a sense of protection for marine environments so that the beautiful farming and fishing villages, nostalgic old-time culture, and the vast marine resources around Penghu are preserved and developed in a sustainable fashion.
Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, November 2021
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)