The nation's recycling efforts have attracted international attention, with representatives from other countries coming to learn from Taiwan's experience, Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) Minister Winston Dang (陳重信) said yesterday.
Dang said the improvements in the trash disposal system were a success story.
Two decades ago, the streets were heavily littered and air and water pollution were significantly worse, he said.
The was EPA quickly established around that time, he said, and immediately set to work drawing up environmental protection measures. Since then, the quality of the environment has steadily improved, while the economy has continued to grow, Dang said.
Dang, who previously worked at the US Environmental Protection Agency, came into office in May when the EPA was engaged in a heated debate over environmental impact assessments for three proposals: a Formosa Plastics Group steel plant in Yunlin County, a Changbin coal-fired power plant and the Suhua Freeway.
"Environmental protection is very difficult work and oftentimes shows very little results," Dang said.
But the nation's success in boosting its recycling rate, which ranks first or second in the world, has captured the attention of many countries that are struggling to improve their recycling programs, he said.
Taiwan's success is a result of taking a different attitude to garbage, Dang said.
While other Asian countries try to figure out what to do with their garbage, Taiwan has learned to see it as "resource." This means recycling as much as possible and creating a multi-stage process that has proven very efficient.
Although it began recycling later than Singapore, where recycling is at 51 percent, Taiwan's overall recycling rate is now 61 percent.
The recycling rate for domestic waste is 36 percent, compared with 32 percent in the US, which also launched its recycling program before Taiwan.
Countries including Germany, Japan, China, the Netherlands and South Africa, as well as South and Central American countries with diplomatic ties with Taiwan, have recognized the nation's achievements and dispatched teams to study its recycling program and legislation.
Japan and China have already implemented recycling programs modeled on Taiwan's system and seen positive results.
Each year, 4.5 billion plastic bottles are recycled in Taiwan, Dang said, adding that the energy saved from this alone was enough to light up all of Taipei City for a month and meant a significant cut in greenhouse gas emissions.
"But this contribution is overlooked by both Taiwan and the rest of the world," he said.
Dang praised NGOs working on the environment, saying they had been highly effective in raising public awareness of the need to protect the environment and to recycle.
He also said that a "Keep Trash off the Ground" campaign had significantly reduced litter on the streets.
"We will keep working to achieve the goal of zero waste," Dang said, adding that the EPA had been tasked with finding more means by which to move society toward sustainability, including encouraging a switch to renewable energy.
Dang said that environmental technology had advanced significantly over the past decade, adding that such technology would help achieve a balance between economic development and environmental protection.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME: The central government is offering subsidies to hotels to house people who have been ordered to undergo 14-day home quarantine Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) yesterday elaborated on the rules for “social distancing” and said that the government is providing subsidies to encourage more hotels to become quarantine hotels. Chen on Tuesday urged the public to practice social distancing by keeping at least 1m apart outdoors and 1.5m apart indoors. If maintaining such distances is not possible due to confined or crowded spaces, then everyone should wear a mask, Chen yesterday told a daily news briefing at the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) in Taipei. The center also suggested that people avoid exhibitions, sports events, concerts and other social
FAMILY FEUD: Weng Jen-hsien, who was convicted of killing six people in 2016, was the second prisoner to be executed since President Tsai Ing-wen took office A death row inmate was executed on Wednesday, less than a year after he was convicted of killing six people by setting fire to his home. Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥) said that he signed the order and the death sentence was carried out on Wednesday afternoon in New Taipei City. The Supreme Court on July 10 last year sentenced 53-year-old Weng Jen-hsien (翁仁賢) to death after he was convicted of killing his parents, niece, nephew and nephew’s wife and his parents’ caregivers. Weng set fire to his home in Taoyuan’s Longtan District (龍潭) on Feb. 7, 2016, after a family feud
At a campground in Nantou County, a team of women are using ropes to shimmy up a towering seven-story tall Chinaberry tree, fighting their fear of heights and reconnecting with nature. Tree climbing remains somewhat niche in Taiwan, but a growing number of women are embracing the challenge thanks to the island’s first international certified female climber arborist. Sylvia Hsu (許芢涵), 26, said she was inspired to set up her own women-only tree climbing classes after seeing the popularity of similar gatherings in Europe. “A women-only camp is a more relaxed environment,” she said. “I was hooked on trees after my first climb...
STRENGTH IN UNITY: The Executive Yuan respects KMT legislators’ viewpoints, but has no comment on calls for the premier to step down, spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday accused Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) of treating the Legislative Yuan with disdain and demanded that he apologize or step down for saying that KMT Legislator Chen Yu-jen (陳玉珍) is unfit for her job. Prior to a question-and-answer session at the legislature on Tuesday, Su was asked by reporters to comment on Chen’s remark on Monday that Taiwan is not a country. “Then she is not qualified to be a lawmaker,” the premier said. Chen made the remark during a question-and-answer session with Mainland Affairs Council Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通), when she asked him about his view