Draft of Resource Reuse and Recycling Act Sent to Legislative Yuan for Review

After a careful study of the principles of sustainable materials management (SMM) and a recycling-based society, the government has decided to combine the Waste Disposal Act and the Resource Recycling Act into one piece of legislation – the Resource Reuse and Recycling Act. Following the 25 July 2013 session of the Executive Yuan, Premier Jiang Yi-huah announced that a draft of the act had been approved and was being sent to the Legislative Yuan for review.

The Waste Disposal Act has been in effect since 1974 and basically covers the end treatment of waste, with only limited concern for recycling and reuse. The Resource Recycling Act was promulgated in 2002 in order to strengthen Taiwan’s recycling and reuse regimen, and although it is still being enforced its regulations are in need of updating. As having both of these acts written into law at the same time creates problems of legal concurrence it would be preferable for them to be combined. The EPA has been holding consultations and discussions on combining these two acts since 2004.

In order to put sustainable, cyclical use of resources, energy saving, and carbon reduction policies into practice – thus reducing the consumption of resources and the corresponding burden upon the environment – the Resource Reuse and Recycling Act incorporates the 5R principles:

  1. Reduction: Reduction at source, such as reducing the amounts of raw materials that manufacturing operations consume, and also reduction of the waste created at the consumer end of a product’s lifecycle
  2. Reuse: Reusing resources whenever possible before disposing of them
  3. Recycling: Seeing waste as a recyclable resource
  4. Energy Recovery: Waste that cannot be recycled should be used as fuel whenever possible
  5. Land Reclamation: Waste that cannot be recycled or reused using any of the above methods should be treated until it is stable and harmless and then used in land reclamation projects

Enshrining the 5R mechanisms into law will bring the ultimate goal of zero waste through total recycling closer to becoming a reality. The draft of the Resource Reuse and Recycling Act has a total of nine chapters and 116 articles, and in comparison to the current regulations has the following additional regulations: 

  1. The act gives the central competent authority the authority to determine what is defined as waste resources.
  2. Waste resources should first continue to be used if possible; if not, then they should be reused, recycled, or disposed of properly, in that order.
  3. The central competent authority should consult with the central industry competent authority on policy formulation and program planning. For development plans for commercial port areas or coastal industrial parks, harmless, stable, non-inflammable waste resources must be reused in the construction of new infrastructure or for land reclamation and artificial islands wherever possible.
  4. The central competent authority should consult with the central industry competent authority on formulating guidelines for eco-friendly design.
  5. Procurement for government agencies, public schools, and state-run enterprises should give priority to eco-friendly products.
  6. In order to expand the disposal responsibilities of responsible enterprises, in addition to the current fee paying mechanism they will henceforth be required to implement self-regulation.
  7. Regulations have been added covering industrial waste disposal and joint liability for proper disposal.
  8. Reuse management responsibilities that are currently divided among ministries will be integrated into a set of recovered resource management regulations to be formulated by the central competent authority.
  9. The central competent authority has been authorized to designate and announce legal waste disposal operators and facilities, and to levy the industrial waste disposal and facility remediation fee that will go into the Industrial Waste Clearance and Disposal Fund.
  10. Final waste disposal facilities that have ceased operations should continue operating pollution prevention equipment at the site and conduct regular monitoring.
  11. For accidental violations of a minor nature, demerit points will be recorded and warnings issued; continuous violations will result in administrative penalties.
  12. If illicit profits gained from violating the regulations exceed the maximum designated fines, then the fines can be increased after due consideration of the scope of the profits, not limited by the maximums set down in law.

Prepared by Environmental Policy Monthly, August 2013