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Taiwan News talks circular economy with MINIWIZ in a trash-wrapped classroom

MINIWIZ transforms post-consumer waste into high-performance materials for architecture

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MINIWIZ founder and CEO Arthur Huang. 

MINIWIZ founder and CEO Arthur Huang.  (Taiwan News photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — MINIWIZ founder and CEO Arthur Huang (黃謙智) sat down with Taiwan News in a classroom the company built with recycled materials to talk about its goals of promoting a circular economy.

MINIWIZ, which stands for the slogan, “It is wise to minimize,” was born when Huang and his team asked the questions, “How can we design things more sustainably?” and “How can we build a building with the least amount of carbon footprint, the least amount of toxicity?”

Huang said that although the world can benefit tremendously from building long-lasting buildings with ubiquitous materials, that has not been how the architecture industry or society as a whole worked. After some investigation, Huang realized the most ubiquitous material available in an urban settings is trash.

The team thus began studying trash and became angry when it discovered the reason why people dump trash carelessly without any thought of transforming it into something useful. According to Huang, there is a disjunct between industry and reverse logistics, leaving no party to cover relevant costs and no one to be held responsible.

He said the team turned its anger into a momentum that led to the establishment of MINIWIZ.

One major problem the company has had to tackle was matching its business scale with the scale of the circular economy. “The scale of trash is so big, so dynamic, so chaotic; and then you have a demand, so large but so uniform,” said Huang.

The solution — the market that allows these completely different “characters” to meet — was architecture. “Architecture is diverse; nobody wants (the) same space everywhere,” said Huang.

MINIWIZ thus developed the Modular Adaptable Convertible Ward (MAC ward) in partnership with the Fu Jen Catholic University Hospital, which aims to transform buildings and underutilized space into general, intensive care, or isolation wards as needed. The MAC ward’s design is optimized for quick shipping and assembly and uses eco-materials for environment, social, and governance (ESG) compliance.

Taiwan News talks circular economy with MINIWIZ in a trash-wrapped classroom
An inside view of the MAC ward. (MINIWIZ photo)

The project was developed between May 2020 and June 2021, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, the world was at a standstill, factories stopped working, shipments were not moving, and there was a shortage of medical equipment.

Huang said the project was able to turn local trash and wasted resources into something that saved people’s lives, as development for the MAC ward finished in time for it to be put to use as a COVID treatment center. One of his proudest achievements, Huang added, was the MAC ward’s construction did not cost any more than what a ward built with traditional construction materials would.

Another MINIWIZ project was called the “Trashpresso,” the world’s first mobile plastics and fabric waste recycling plant. The compact, solar-powered unit automatically washes, shreds, melts, and molds locally collected trash.

The idea for the Trashpresso stemmed from the fact that recycled materials need to be clean before they can be reused — and trash is cleanest when it has just been discarded. Therefore, to make the recycling process more efficient, “you need to (bring) the transformation to them,” said Huang.

Taiwan News talks circular economy with MINIWIZ in a trash-wrapped classroom
The "Trashpresso" brings recycling right to the doorstep of local communities. (MINIWIZ photo)

Aside from saving carbon footprint when recycling, the Trashpresso also enables local creativity and engineering, immediately benefitting local economies. In order to serve more communities, MINIWIZ is also working to reduce the size of the unit even more.

Huang said he believes that people, especially those close to schools and hospitals, already do see the value of sustainable principles. However, when it comes to lifestyles and luxury, it takes much longer for people to be convinced.

Huang also introduced its latest project, the KINDOM x MINIWIZ ESG Innovation Lab, which combines all of MINIWIZ’s knowledge, technology, and experience. Materials used in the classroom are not only a combination of natural and recycled but also anti-viral and antibacterial.

The classroom also uses “the MAC ward system,” under which wall panels are fitted and built with dry construction, allowing them to be removed easily. This way, the walls can be used for much longer than traditional ones, which are typically struck down for remodeling.

Now entering its second decade, MINIWIZ’s goal is to teach its partners the urgency it feels to adapt to sustainable principles. It hopes to help the government and local communities meet their ESG goals.