Taiwan’s plastics industry begins digital transformation toward the island’s zero-waste ambitions
24 Nov 2022 --- The Taiwan Plastics Industry Association (TPIA) is promoting digital transformation in the plastics industry to propel the country to zero emissions. Taiwan has a rich history of waste reduction regulations and innovations, leading the island to champion regional recycling rates.
The Taiwan Plastics Industry Association recently held its 20th Second General meeting, where the chairman, Benker Liao, emphasized the association’s efforts in promoting the transformation of the plastic industry. The association stated it is taking the lead in assisting companies amid the rapid changes in the island’s and world’s economies.
Taiwan was once nicknamed “garbage island.” Now, the country boasts the world’s second-highest effective recycling rate, following Germany. Taiwan has a 55% collection rate from households and businesses, with 80% of Taiwan’s industrial waste getting recycled, according to a Taiwan Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) report.
TPIA’s plastic promises
According to TPIA, The plastics industry is the third most crucial manufacturing industry in Taiwan. The association reports the island trending toward high-performance biological decomposition, biomedical polymer materials, nanocomposite materials, environmentally friendly plastics and highly functional materials.
Some companies that are included in the association are South Plastic Industry (SPI), T.E Packaging & Gift, Frank & Associates Plastic (FAP) and Long Team Industria (LTI). The meeting updated the public on how the companies have been progressing to move the country closer to plastic reduction through digital and physical innovations.
SPI adds bioconversion additives to its plastic formula to make new biodegradable plastics. T.E Packaging & Gift invests in developing organic carbon film bags to create recycled zipper bags made of environmentally friendly packaging materials.
FAP produces UV-resistant, all-weather, halogen-free, easy-tear materials to reduce marine and environmental pollution. LTI has upgraded all of its technical and digital processes to meet Industry 4.0 specifications, providing an example of digital transformation for the plastic mold manufacturing industry.
The association states it is actively assisting its members in upgrading technologies while “driving the integration of academic and research in a move to develop key technologies.”
Taiwan’s plastic past
Taiwan developed a plastic reduction roadmap in 1997 dubbed “the 4-in-1 recycling program.” The country enacted measures to recycle plastic containers, reduce plastic shopping bags and restrict the use of plastic cutlery.
Taiwan was one of the first countries to place an initial ban on free plastic bags when it announced the measure in 2002.
In 2019, this program expanded to the “5 + 2” program. It underscored the nation’s commitment to a circular economy. At that time, the domestic recycling rate was 51%, whereas the overall recycling rate was 35%.
Incineration is the most common form of getting rid of plastic that cannot be recycled in the country, having 24 incineration facilities. About 10,000 metric tons of plastic waste were disposed of in landfills, which makes up less than 1% of the total plastics consumed in 2019
Taiwan’s EPA states that an average person in Taiwan uses 700 plastic bags each year, but the country is working to reduce this to 100 by 2025 and to zero by 2030.
Lai Ying-Ying, an EPA official helping to implement the program, has said Taiwan “aims to implement a blanket ban by 2030 to significantly reduce plastic waste that pollutes the ocean and also gets into the food chain to affect human health.”
Taiwanese citizens produced 0.4 kg of waste per person per day in 2018, down from an average of 1.14 kg in 1998, according to the EPA. Taiwan has reduced the amount of waste entering landfills to less than 2%, and the government has converted former landfill sites into parks and community centers.
By Sabine Waldeck
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