'Foreign garbage' streaming into Taiwan, after China tightens controls

Taiwan ministers urge crackdown on imports of paper and plastic waste to battle environmental degradation

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(Photo from Buzzworthy)

(Photo from Buzzworthy)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- The Environmental Protection Administration has been criticized for not doing more sooner to tackle the tons of extra “foreign waste” washing up in Taiwan, according to an Apple Daily report.

Based on a Control Yuan press release on Monday (April 8), this showed the amount of waste paper and plastic from abroad has more than doubled since the end of 2017. China announced in July the same year it would ban the import of these “solid waste” products.

Since then many Western countries have been desperately trying to source new dumping grounds for their trash, which are part of their “recycling” programs. As many experts have pointed out, recycling also generates energy, garbage, and pollution.

Beijing’s crackdown on foreign waste has led to the U.S. exporting to developing nations, according to data from Unearthed, part of Greenpeace. In response, exports into these countries are now being curtailed.


(Photo from Buzzworthy)

According to the Control Yuan figures, the amount of imported plastic waste for 2017 was 200,000 tons, which increased to 429,000 tons in 2018. There was a 66% increase in the amount of plastic and paper waste imported during 2017.

Control Yuan committee members Wang Yu-ling (王幼玲) and Zhao Yong-qing (趙永清) urged the EPA to review and improve its performance, according to Apple Daily. They said the failure of the EPA to control the import of waste affected the credibility of the government.

They also added that since China has tightened controls on the import of waste, neighboring countries have done the same. For example, Thailand banned 422 kinds of electronic waste last year and no plastic waste will be allowed from 2021. Malaysia, meanwhile, has frozen the issuing of waste plastic licenses since last year.

Furthermore, Wang and Zhao indicated that domestic waste paper recycling needs to be further improved as paper was often mixed with other waste. Also, it was found that equipment at recycling centers needed upgrading.

The Control Yuan report additionally showed that prices for waste paper collection had decreased, from NT$3.3-4.1 per kilogram in the second half of 2017, to NT$2.5 in the second half of 2018.