The people of Taiwan have progressed far in recycling and minimizing waste. While in 1997, the amount of garbage produced per capita reached a historical high of 1.14 kilograms per day, by the end of 2008, that number had fallen by almost 51 percent to 0.52 kilogram per person per day. And whereas about 60 percent of people sorted and discarded their refuse properly in 1989, almost 100 percent of people did so in 2008. Moreover, Taiwan’s overall recycling rate reached nearly 42 percent in 2008—higher than those of many advanced nations, including France, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Separation of recyclable materials is mandatory, and pick-up services are provided at least twice a week, with garbage trucks collecting and organizing over 30 categories of waste.
The EPA’s Green Mark program has proven an effective means of promoting recycling, reducing pollution and conserving resources. Consumers are encouraged to purchase items bearing the Green Mark logo, which denotes recyclability or a lower environmental impact compared with similar products available. At the end of June 2009, 4,774 types of products carried the Green Mark.
Meanwhile, promotion of food-waste recycling over the past eight years has been highly successful, with the amount recycled per day rising from 80 tonnes in 2001 to 1,920 tonnes in 2008. About 75 percent of food waste is steam-treated for use as pig feed, and 24 percent enters composting systems.
Following are a few examples of Taiwan’s recent successes in promoting recycling practices:
In 2008, Taiwan recycled more than 50 percent of its batteries, thus surpassing the EU’s goal of achieving a battery-recycling rate of 25 percent by 2012.
Despite a sharp rise in the volume of electronic and electrical waste in recent years, the recycling rate of such products has edged its way above the 50-percent mark. In 2008, 256 tonnes of mobile phones (equal to approximately 1.67 million handsets) were recycled.