The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday set up the first demonstration site for recycling single-use plastic wrapping at a Carrefour Taiwan store, with an eye on inviting more hypermarkets to turn packaging into reusable materials.
The amount of large plastic wrappings used to bind boxes of goods is expected to soar due to the Ghost Festival (中元節), which falls on Aug. 15 this year, when many households prepare food for spirits that are said to have been released from the underworld.
A wholesale store produces nearly 40kg of such wrappings every day, which mostly ends up in garbage incinerators, EPA Department of Waste Management Director-General Lai Ying-ying (賴瑩瑩) told a news conference at the Carrefour store in Taipei’s Dazhi (大直) area.
Through the demonstration site, the agency aims to nurture a circular economy model in which more plastic wrappings are recycled and sent to reprocessing plants to be turned into other plastic products, she said.
The quantity of recycled materials is key to generating sufficient market scale, Lai said, adding that recycling firms require wrappings without stains or price stickers.
Of Taiwan’s nearly 200 plastics manufacturers, only five to six are capable of turning plastic coverings into other products, she added.
The disposal cost of plastic wrappings mixed with garbage is about NT$5 per kilogram, while cleaner coverings can be sold to recycling firms for NT$10 per kilogram, said National Kaohsiung First University of Science and Technology environmental engineering professor Fan Kuo-shuh (樊國恕), who helped start the recycling initiative.
The initiative next plans to set up a business alliance for such recycling efforts, while encouraging more stores and high-tech plants to join it, he said.
Eastem Plastic Enterprise Co chairman Chung Ching-chien (鍾清鈐) said that only a few firms in the nation have entered the reprocessing industry due to relatively low profits and high technical thresholds.
Eastem Plastic Enterprise purchases recycled plastics at NT$8 to NT$10 per kilogram, or up to NT$14 if they are imported, but it only makes a profit of NT$2 per kilogram, he said.
The firm, which makes products out of nearly 2,000 tonnes of recycled plastics every month, would import less plastic waste from other nations — currently about 1,200 tonnes per month — if it could secure sufficient materials recycled from domestic stores, he added.
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