From Garbage Island to Recycling Success Story

Day 340 – In the 90s, Taiwan was only collecting about 70 percent of its trash and very little of that was being recycled. Their landfills were reaching capacity. After many protests and the call from residents to improve the situation, the government drafted a new waste management framework encouraging citizens and manufacturers to adopt practices to reduce the amount of waste produced.

Companies play an active role either by handling their own garbage or by paying a waste fee subsidizing a government-run fund for waste infrastructure. Taiwanese citizens must put their mixed waste into government-approved blue bags they purchase. By contrast, recyclable materials like glass, aluminum and paper can be placed in any kind of bag. Classical music piped from trucks alert local residents that it’s time to go outside with bags containing the recyclables and mixed waste. A bright yellow pickup truck collects general trash, while a smaller white truck behind it has a set of bins into which people can throw recyclable materials, from raw food to cardboard.” – Smithsonian Magazine

Taiwan has gone from not recycling much of their waste, to reclaiming 55 percent from households and 77 percent from industries. Many factors go into Taiwan’s successful recycling initiative. However, two stand out as being integral to the program.

  1. Taiwan has created a recycling booth, where residents can bring their recyclables if they happen to miss the truck. By bringing these items to the recycle booth, value is added to their transit card.
  2. Taiwan has companies that are researching ways to take recyclables and various other waste streams and create building materials and other useful products. Arthur Huang and his team at Miniwiz have experimented on over 1,200 different waste materials to figure out their mechanical properties, in hopes to create new products for reuse.

Taiwan is a perfect example of what can be accomplished when you have the cooperation from the government, the business sector and residents.

Tomorrow, reusable mailers helping keep trash out of the landfill.