In an effort to prevent garbage overflow and alleviate the burden on incinerators, the legislature yesterday proposed legislative amendments to prioritize the disposal of household trash over industrial waste and authorize the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) to take control of the operation of the nation’s incinerators.
In response to the “garbage war” in central and southern municipalities that began last year, in which hundreds of tonnes of garbage have gone unprocessed, despite sufficient waste treatment capacity at the national level, the Legislative Yuan’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee approved amendments to the Waste Disposal Act (廢棄物清理法) to enable the agency to require local governments to help those with limited or no capacity to burn trash.
Local governments with surplus incineration capacity can decide whether to burn trash from other municipalities, but many have refused to process trash from outside their jurisdictions, leading to a massive amount of unprocessed garbage piling up nationwide.
The amendments stipulate that incinerator operators would be required to process local garbage and that of neighboring cities and counties, while they would have to seek the agency’s approval to process industrial waste.
The amendments also aim to order the nation’s 24 incinerators to process household garbage prior to industrial waste, as incinerator operators prefer to burn industrial waste due to higher processing fees.
“The incineration of household waste should be put above industrial waste treatment. Incinerators tend to handle industrial waste before all household waste on hand is processed, which is a misplacement of priorities,” Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Su Chih-feng (蘇治芬) said.
EPA Minister Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) expressed support for the proposed legislation, saying the agency would appoint specific incinerators to handle waste generated by industrial parks.
The agency would also replace older facilities to increase waste treatment capacity, Lee said.
The amendments would also more than double the penalty for illegal waste disposal.
The fine for illegal waste disposal that causes the death of a person would be raised from NT$15 million to NT$30 million (US$465,029 to US$930,059), the fine for illegal disposal that causes major injuries to a person would be increased from NT$9 million to NT$25 million and the fine for illegal disposal that causes illness would be raised from NT$6 million to NT$20 million, while the maximum penalty for illegal disposal at science parks and industrial parks would increase to a seven-year prison term and a fine of NT$20 million.
The amendments would also increase the maximum fine for selling expired food products from NT$30,000 to NT$10 million.
However, long-expected legislation to authorize the administration to take over the regulation of industrial waste — which is distributed across 10 government agencies — was stalled, because the administration said it was too understaffed to take over the responsibility, despite its willingness.
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