With a 55 percent recycling rate, Taiwan is one of the better nations at recycling. It hasn’t always been this way. Once dubbed “Garbage Island,” Taiwan’s place as a champion recycler is the result of year’s long effort spurred on by the fact that there is very little remaining life in the nation’s landfills.
The Wall Street Journal has the details:
Taiwan relies on a comprehensive strategy that harnesses its long-serving musical garbage trucks, along with pay-as-you-go trash bags, black-haired pigs and neighborhood snitches.
“To make the policy work, you have to make it convenient for people. You need incentives and you need penalties,” says Wu Sheng-chung, director-general of the EPA’s waste management department.
In the capital Taipei, convenience means more than 4,000 pickup spots five nights a week, with mobile apps that alert users to nearby truck stops.
To encourage recycling, the city requires disposal of all nonrecyclable waste in government-certified, blue plastic bags, costing as little as NT$1 (three U.S. cents) for a small bag, or NT$216 (US$7) for five large ones. Violators can get slapped with fines of up to NT$6,000 (US$184)—or even publicly shamed.
Another key to Taiwan’s policy: a government-run fund financed by manufacturers and sellers of select recyclable products or packaging, such as soda companies using polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, bottles. The money helps subsidize Taiwan’s collection and recycling industries, whose players range from lone scavengers to multinationals such as U.S.-based World Resources Co.