The nation’s recycling industry is worth NT$100 billion (US$2.98 billion), the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said yesterday, adding that with more research and development, the government hopes to generate even more revenue through recycling.
“Since 2002, countries around the globe have been meeting annually to discuss recycling methods and policies in response to the International Electronics Recycling Congress’ [IERC] establishment of directives on Waste Electrical and Electronics Equipment and Restriction of Hazardous Substances,” director of the EPA’s Recycling Fund Management Board Lin Chien-huei (林建輝) told a press conference.
Because Taiwan’s recycling rates for electronic goods — such as washing machines, computers, television sets, cellphones, and air conditioning units — have been among the highest in the world, the nation has actively participated in such meetings, Lin said.
“While the world’s average recycling rate for these products is 15 percent to 30 percent, Taiwan boasts a 50 percent recycling rate,” he said.
“During this year’s IERC meeting on Jan. 22 in Salzburg, Austria, EPA representatives presented ‘A Review on Taiwan’s National Recycling Scheme for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment’ to share our experience of recycling with the world,” he said.
In 1998, the board began a “four in one” recycling scheme that involves the community, the board, recycling companies and government-hired garbage collectors, Lin said.
“The board operates like this: We collect recycling fees from upper-stream manufacturers who are considered responsible for the re-collection of their products at the end of the products’ lifecycles, and in turn use the money to subsidize recycling companies for processing the waste,” he said.
More than half of home appliances are recycled because when a family replaces old appliances with new ones, installers will more likely than not take used machines and take them to recycling stations because the workers are paid to do so, he said.
“This makes the opportunity for recycling large electric appliances very accessible to most households,” Lin said.
As the recycling industry is worth NT$100 billion, Lin called on businesses to invest in new recycling technologies to develop it further.
“With a little investment, we can turn an industry that few countries in the world are interested in into a highly profitable and rapidly growing green industry,” Lin said.
“When the industry matures, we may even be able to attract [recycling] orders from abroad,” Lin said.