KMT slams DPP ‘inaction’ over imported waste ban

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Sep 01, 2018 - Page 3

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday accused the Democracy Progressive Party (DPP) government of turning Taiwan into an “island of trash” after its delayed response to a Chinese ban on imported waste.

Beijing on Dec. 31 last year imposed a ban on Chinese firms accepting foreign waste for processing, causing more than 1 million tonnes of waste to be redirected to Taiwan as of July 31, KMT caucus secretary-general William Tseng (曾銘宗) told a news conference.

The amount of imported waste in the first half of this year was two-and-a-half times higher than the amount received during the same period last year, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said last month.

From when the ordinance came into effect until the end of July, Taiwan had imported more than 1 million tonnes of waste — mainly plastics and paper — from 86 nations, Tseng said, citing Customs Administration data.

The increase in imports could cause pollution and negatively affect local waste processing firms’ business, he said.

The highly alkaline fluids used to process waste could also pose environmental concerns, Tseng said, adding that if the recycling system crumbles under financial strain, then unprocessed excess waste would have nowhere to go.

Tseng slammed the DPP for its tardy response, saying that it was not until last month that the EPA said it would cap the amount of imported waste by amending regulations, which are scheduled to go into effect next month.

The EPA’s inaction defeated the purpose of its ban on free plastic bags and proposed plastic straw ban, KMT caucus deputy secretary-general Ko Chih-en (柯志恩) said.

Ko urged the EPA to address the risk of fire in the nation’s approximately 130,000 unlicensed waste processing firms, as garbage is highly combustible.

The EPA said that some trading firms that have imported waste have been processing it themselves, rather than commissioning local companies.

Some waste processing firms have expressed concern that the low cost of importing waste would harm the cost of processing locally generated waste, it added.

EPA Deputy Minister Chang Tzi-chin (張子敬) on Thursday said that the proposed amendments to waste import regulations seek to impose stricter rules on the types of waste paper and plastics that may be imported to avoid harming local businesses.

Additional reporting by CNA