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Thu, Nov 08, 2001 - Page 2 News List

EPA censured over failure to deal with wasted food

TRASH DISPUTE While the amount of compost made from food waste has dropped dramatically, the EPA argues that leftovers are also used for other purposes such as for the feeding of pigs

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Control Yuan yesterday censured the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) for its failure to promote policies to reduce, collect and reuse leftover food over the past decade.

To prove its point, it cited that the amount of daily treated organic compost collected has dropped from 310 tonnes in 1990 to just two tonnes last year. Control Yuan Members Lin Shih-chi (林時機) and Kuo Shih-chi (郭石吉) said that the dramatic drop is due to the EPA's failure to promote uniformity in disposing of the refuse and public awareness of food waste disposal issues.

EPA officials, however, told the Taipei Times yesterday that evaluating the effectiveness of promoting the recycling of leftover food by looking only at the amount of daily treated organic compost was insufficient.

"Treated leftovers can be used as fertilizer or feeding stuffs for pigs," Chang Hoang-jang (張晃彰), head of the EPA's central Taiwan division, said.

Chang said that food leftovers from several sites had indeed been reused -- as feeding stuffs for pigs.

"We still have many difficulties to conquer, including offering better food waste storage facilities, making special garbage trucks available, building more well-designed leftover treatment facilities and expanding markets for feeding stuffs [for pigs] made from leftovers," Chang said.

EPA officials said that they have worked hard to promote recycling of food waste not only in rural sites but also in urban areas. For example, Taichung City recycles 40 to 50 tonnes of food leftovers each day and use most of it for pig feed.

"Taichung City's success in recycling leftovers can be attributed to the offer of a lottery ticket for each bucket of leftovers to residents who recycle it," said Kao Yi-ming (高宜明) of EPA's central Taiwan division.

Kao said that the EPA would be promoting new strategies in Changhua and Yunlin counties this month and plans are to recycle 60 to 100 tonnes of leftovers in each county per day.

EPA officials said that local governments should have tried harder to increase residents' awareness that food leftovers are an important national resource.

The Countol Yuan also censured the environmental protection departments of several local governments yesterday, including Hsinchu County, Yunlin County, Chiayi City and Chiayi County, for officials' passive attitude toward recycling food waste.

Countol Yuan Members said that some officials blame a lack of money and manpower for the failure to promote the recycling of food leftovers. To prevent dishonest merchants from refining cooking oil from leftovers, some officials only pay attention to cases of the inappropriate recycling of leftovers reported by residents or schools rather than actively tracing food waste.

Control Yuan Members yesterday said that the EPA's failure to unify the way garbage is classified has resulted in confusion on the part of residents over how to recycle food leftovers.

Countrol Yuan Members said some counties classify garbage into recyclable and non-recyclable, while others classify garbage into flammable and nonflammable. Some counties classify recyclable garbage into three categories and others into five. Countrol Yuan members said that even colors on barrels for recyclable garbage had not been unified.

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