Hong Kong Experts Learn from Taiwan’s Successes in Waste Disposal

On 7 June 2013, the head of Hong Kong’s Environment Bureau, Mr. K. S. Wong, along with a group of Hong Kong experts visited Taipei to observe local waste disposal policies in action. EPA Minister Stephen Shu-hung Shen met the group in person and told of Taiwan’s experience with waste disposal policy making and its successes in resource recycling. These include the system of sorting waste before disposal, the pay-per-bag garbage collection system being implemented by Taipei City and other municipalities, and the gradual decrease in annual waste volumes resulting from the public making more effort to recycle resources. The Hong Kong experts left Taiwan with a much clearer understanding of Taiwan’s waste disposal practices.

The group from Hong Kong consisted of 60 experts from government, industry, and academia. The main purpose of their trip was to learn from Taipei City’s successes in implementing waste management and recycling in local communities, how fees for metropolitan waste are charged, and how food waste is treated. A meeting with the EPA to exchange ideas and opinions was also part of their agenda. The Hong Kong group was taken to some of Taipei City Government’s waste disposal facilities and to an eco-friendly local community to observe metropolitan waste management in practice, including solid waste sorting, recycling, collection, and disposal.

The Hong Kong Environment Bureau group was particularly interested in the pay-per-bag waste collection system being implemented by the Taipei City Government. EPA personnel were at hand to explain in detail the planning, administration, public education, and supporting measures for the scheme, as well as problems encountered and how they were solved.

The EPA pointed out that Taiwan’s successes and experiences in environmental matters, especially in the fields of waste treatment and resource recycling, have been a focus of international attention. Hong Kong’s Environment Bureau members lauded the way waste treatment in Taiwan has been transformed from solely tail-end treatment to more reduction-at-source and resource recycling, to the extent that in 2012 the recycling and reuse rate reached 65%. Taiwan has thus come a long way from the “trash wars” of the period prior to 1987 when untreated refuse was piled high in the streets. The Hong Kong Environment Bureau group was full of praise for Taiwan’s success in waste sorting at source and resource recycling that has made Taiwan a model for other nations to learn from. Full credit for this should go to Taiwan’s tireless garbage collection teams and Taiwan’s citizens in general for pulling together to make it happen.

 

Prepared by Environmental Policy Monthly, July 2013