Wed, May 14, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Recycled furniture is a `gold mine' for society, EPA says

By Meggie Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Sixteen thousand pieces of furniture avoided the incinerator and were refurbished by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) and resold around the country last year, the administration said yesterday.

In addition, 2.8 tonnes of furniture that could not be fixed were chopped into woodchip and sold to factories as fuel for their boilers, the administration deputy inspector-general Huang Hui-yuan (黃輝源 told a press conference.

"Refurbished furniture is environmentally friendly and energy-efficient. As such, the administration will strengthen its efforts to promote this ??ide business,'" Huang said.

Every day, an average of 500 tonnes of furniture is disposed of around the nation, Huang said.

As part of the administration's plan to create a "zero disposal country," in 2003 it began to advocate the reuse and recycling of waste, he said, adding that at present 18 of the country's 23 cities and counties own refurbishing plants.

Ten chopping plants were built around the nation to turn wood waste into useful woodchip, he said.

"With [global] oil prices on the rise, woodchip used as fuel in factory boilers have received increased attention in the past few years," the administration's bureau of environmental inspection section chief Lin Mao-yuan (林茂原 said.

Many factories are awakening to the fact that woodchip fuel is not only green, but also cheap, as it is four times more efficient that oil, he said.

"This means that heat produced by burning NT$10,000 worth of oil [about 1 tonne] would be the equivalent of burning about NT$2,500 worth of woodchip [about 20 tonnes]," he said.

The plants literally turned garbage into gold. Last year, 28,000 people visited a state-owned recycled furniture exhibit, generating NT$12.5 million (US$405,000) in furniture sales, Huang said.

Combining the revenues from the sale of woodchip and savings for waste treatment, this "side business" last year generated a NT$100 million profit for the administration, he said.

However, the emphasis of the administration's effort has not been to make money off old furniture, but rather to instill the value that resources should be recycled and reused whenever possible.

"I bought my bicycle from a refurbishing plant for NT$200 and it works perfectly well for exercise or transportation purposes," he said. "We strongly urge people who wish to dispose of fixable furniture, or those who wish to buy refurbished furniture, to contact their local environmental protection bureaus."

Businesses wishing to follow the "green trend of the future" in fuel consumption and save on fuel costs are similarly encouraged to contact local authorities to purchase woodchip, he said.

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