Taiwan's Growing Recycling Market

Strolling down the night markets in Asia, one of the things that stick out among the various smells, sights and sounds—is trash. Lots of trash.

From empty plastic bottles to PS containers, leftover plastic packaging is found all over those night markets. But things may be changing—at least in Taiwan. It seems that Taiwan is working to have its citizens adopt a recycling mindset. Almost every elementary school in Taiwan has now implemented environmental education programs into their curricula, with hopes that recycling knowledge will start at a young age.

 

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But it’s not just limited to education according to Da Fon, a Taiwanese-based recycling company that says Taiwan is experiencing a recycling boom.

 

The number of recycling firms in Taiwan has grown from about 100 in the 1980s and 1990s to more than 1,600 at present. According to Taiwan's Industrial Development Bureau of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, recyclers earned $2.2 billion in revenue in 2014, up from $1 billion a decade ago.

 

Da Fon says that plastic recycling has drawn the most attention in the country.

 

“From football jerseys to wigs to building bricks, plastic recycling in Taiwan is breathing new life into plastic waste, creating a booming new business that is also environmentally friendly,” the company stated. The island just started recycling plastic more than a decade ago, but it now it boasts recycling rates of about 73%, according to Taiwan's Environmental Protection Administration. In 2014 alone, nearly 180,000 tons of used plastic was collected and turned into raw materials worth $140 million.

 

From recycling, sorting, processing, shredding, manufacturing, and even designing, Da Fon says it works to provide a one-stop solution for the industry. Over the past 15 years, Da Fon has established 35 service stations across Taiwan, as well as a factory to manufacture reprocessed granules, a research and development department, and a resource recycling center.

 

Da Fon exports its plastic across the world. Specifically, Da Fon's reprocessed granules have been certified by the SGS Carbon Footprint Verified Certificate, the TUV Recycled Material Verified Certificate, the Plastic Industry Development Center (PIDC), the Post-Consumer-Recycled (PCR) Plastics Verified Certificate and the EuCertPlas Certificate, which works in conjunction with Germany's Blue Angel program and allows the Blue Angel label to be applied to certain applications and products.

 

While in the states, many millennials look to work in the seemingly glamorous high-tech world of Google and Facebook, it seems in Taiwan recycling might be the “cool” industry. Most of the members of Da Fon's staff are in their 30s. "Collecting junk can be cool," said C.H. Juan, the engineer of Da Fon's Resources Circulation Department.

 

The Taiwanese recycling industry is one to keep an eye on.  

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