Taiwanese environmentalists have joined Waste Not Asia (WNA), the first Asian trans-national environmental group to focus its opposition on waste incineration and landfills.
The alliance was formally inaugurated on July 28, at the end of a meeting in Bangkok to celebrate its launch and formulate strategy.
"We will no longer be the cesspit for the industrialized world," said Tara Buakamsri of Greenpeace South East Asia, at the closure ceremony last week.
He said the group represented "the citizens of 12 Asia-Pacific nations opposed to waste incineration" -- which activists described as a failed technology.
They said incinerators had been identified as the primary source of dioxins, considered the most potent of toxic chemicals.
They added, "Other deadly poisons linked with emissions from incinerators include heavy metals, such as lead and mercury."
The alliance consists of activists from around Asia, including India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Guam, Pakistan, Nepal, Thailand, Japan, China, South Korea and Taiwan.
Consolidating international support
Taiwanese anti-incinerator activists from four environmental groups, Taiwan Watch Institute (TWI,
"I believe that the anti-incineration movement in Taiwan will be strengthened because up-to-date information about the incinerator industry will be available through this channel, which will help local activists a lot," Joyce Fu (
During the meeting, WNA delegates from 12 countries proclaimed that they would strive to create "a sustainable society."
They said they would constantly endeavor to achieve a goal of zero waste through an evolving program of clean production.
George Cheng (
Saying that incineration was particularly dangerous, Cheng added that alliance members had committed themselves to a zero-waste society.
This, he explained, involved a waste policy in which discarded materials were composted, recycled or reused, rather than incinerated or dumped at landfills.
Opposition to toxic trade
Cheng said that WNA members would cooperate to oppose expansion of waste incineration technologies.
Also, he added, the aim would be to promote ecologically friendly waste management.
"Participants at the Bangkok meeting said that incineration was a toxic technology dumped on Asian countries by some of the most polluted nations. I have to say that Taiwan is also a target for incinerator builders," Cheng said.
Cheng said that the 36 large-scale incinerators in Taiwan, were either complete or to-be-completed by 2003.
He said these incinerators were primarily purchased from Japan or European countries.
Activists said that Japan and Europe had poisoned their own people with dioxins and other emissions from incinerators, which they now wanted to sell to the rest of Asia.
"Incineration is waste management in the corporate, rather than the public interest," said Junilyn Sylvestre, who is a WNA delegate from the Philippine Clean Air Coalition.
She added that waste management in the public interest meant conserving materials for future generations and not converting them into toxic emissions, which would have a negative effect on people and the environment.
Lending agencies, particularly the Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank and Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), were severely attacked by the WNA.
The WNA said they were also aiming their sights at industrialized countries, for their roles in peddling hazardous technologies, including incinerators.
"It is unacceptable that Japan, which has created an environmental health disaster in its own backyard, because of its over-reliance on incinerators, is now pushing to export its polluting machines to others," said Tara Buakamsri, a spokesperson for Greenpeace South East Asia.
According to the United Nations Environment Program, Japanese incinerators account for almost 40 percent of the dioxin emissions in the world, at the present time.
Incinerator manufacturers -- including Wheelaborator, Kvaerner, ABB, Mitsubishi and NKK -- are actively lobbying to discover new and underdeveloped markets for their products.
Their focus for selling their products has turned to the developing economies of the Asia-Pacific region.
"The continuing dioxin-related public health disaster in Japan is the direct result of an excess of incinerators and garbage.
"There is no materials policy banning the use or disposal of dioxin contributors," said Koa Tasaka, a Japanese anti-incinerator activist and chemistry professor, who has studied the problem in Japan.
WNA condemns waste investments
WNA condemned Bangkok's governor, who recently decided to invest in incinerators to process the city's garbage.
Activists said in an open letter to the governor that his decision to incinerate waste was unwise, expensive, dangerously polluting and that it was insensitive to citizens and the environment.
WNA has appealed to the governor to develop Bangkok into a model city (in environmental terms) by adopting progressive and creative concepts of processing waste.
"In this effort, WNA will extend informational and conceptual guidance," the open letter said.
WNA members said they wanted to put governments and the incinerator industry on notice.
They said that they now had the ability and information to challenge "visionless designs" and address garbage problems on an Asia-Pacific front.
"This is not merely a fight against incinerators; actually we are striving to show the way out of the present garbage crisis," said Sasanka Dev, an Indian environmentalist.
Is taiwan learning international lessons?
Anti-incinerator activists in Taiwan told the Taipei Times that they were concerned about incineration-oriented waste management policies that were being pursued in the country.
"While the Japanese government has set a goal of reducing total dioxin emissions by 2005 to only 10 percent, from 1995 levels, Taiwan's government still encourages investors to build waste incinerators," said Taiwan Watch Institute's George Cheng.
He said he questioned whether Taiwan had learned any lessons from several serious dioxin pollution cases that have happened in Japan.
"Sometimes we don't quite understand why such a wealthy country as Taiwan would rather spend money buying polluters (i.e incinerators), instead of investing in cleaner production equipment," Cheng said.
Action at the grassroots level
Currently, anti-incinerator activists are working on opposing the establishment of new incinerators and landfills throughout Taiwan.
Hsinchu County Government terminated its contract with an incinerator builder last week in Chunglin Township (
It also fined the company NT$1.9 million because it had been late filing paperwork. The proposal had encountered strong local opposition.
Residents in Meinung, Kaohsiung County, where a small-scale incinerator is located, are protesting against the builder, Yunlin-based Jihyu Waste Handler (
Activists in Meinung said that a demonstration would take place on Aug. 3, in front of the plant, to demand an immediate halt to its operations.
"We will also call for the abandonment of a proposal to build a landfill nearby, where Jihyu will dump toxic fly ashe and bottom ashe collected from other waste incinerators," said Chang Cheng-yang (
The anti-incinerator movement in Taiwan has gained international attention and the second annual meeting of WNA will be held in Taiwan next summer.
According to Greenpeace, dioxins are a class of chemical compounds which are extremely toxic to animals and humans, and have been characterized as being some of the most potent "man-made" toxins ever studied.
Western anti-incinerator activists say that funding incinerator construction is a key part of the battle for cleaner air.
They say that governments should be taught not to finance incinerator projects in other countries.
Taiwanese anti-incinerator activists have argued that a large amount of money spent on building public large-scale incinerators -- NT$ 3.5 billion for each on average -- was provided by international consultancy companies in the industry.
* South Korea
Two Japanese virtual YouTubers (VTubers) were suspended by their employers on Sunday after mentioning Taiwan and showing the national flag during a livestream, stoking controversy that was inflamed further when it was discovered that their management company issued distinct apologies in Japanese and Mandarin. While reading YouTube analytics over livestream on Thursday and Friday last week, Hololive VTubers Kiryu Coco and Akai Haato named Taiwan as contributing a high percentage of viewers. Users on the Chinese video streaming platform Bilibili were quick to criticize the two and report their accounts, prompting Hololive’s parent company, Cover Corp, to suspend the streamers for three
NO SIGN OF WAR: Only if Taiwanese showed determination to defend the nation would others be willing to help in the event of a Chinese attack, the premier said Should China launch a war against Taiwan, the military would fight to the last standing person, Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa (嚴德發) said yesterday, adding that the nation has fully fleshed-out defense strategies. “Beijing has continued its acts of provocation against Taiwan, but there are currently no signs that it is ready to launch a full-scale war,” Yen said at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei. Asked how long Taiwan could withstand an attack from China, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said: “Taiwan will not fall.” Any belligerent force that initiates acts of war would pay a heavy price, and so too would Beijing,
MISTAKE: The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy is not a UN body, and the government is committed to protecting the nation’s name, Joseph Wu said The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday condemned the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy for listing Taiwanese cities as belonging to China on its Web site, and asked that it correct the error. The organization was inaugurated in Brussels in 2016 as a global coalition of mayors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Six Taiwanese cities at the time joined the coalition as cities in “Taiwan,” the ministry said. However, officials from the Kaohsiung City Government — one of the organization’s members — last week noticed that the city was now listed on the organization’s Web site as a
MOTHERLAND? Taiwanese who take part in China’s National Day celebrations could be fined NT$100,000 to NT$500,000 if found to have contravened Taiwanese laws The Ministry of Culture yesterday cautioned China-based Taiwanese artists against breaching Taiwanese law by taking part in China’s National Day celebrations. The ministry issued the statement following media reports that Ouyang Nana (歐陽娜娜) is to sing a popular Chinese patriotic song titled My Motherland (我的祖國), and Angela Chang (張韶涵) is to sing Protect (守護) with Chinese entertainers at an event to mark China’s National Day on Thursday. The Mainland Affairs Council is investigating whether such behavior contravenes regulations in the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例), the ministry said. If the behavior involves matters