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Taiwanese and German Experts Discuss Transition Toward a Net-Zero Lifestyle

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In order to facilitate Taiwan's transition toward a zero-waste lifestyle and align with international standards, the MOENV and the German Institute Taipei jointly organized on 25 October the 2023 Taiwan-Germany International Seminar on Transition Toward a Zero-Waste Lifestyle. Experts and industry representatives from Taiwan and Germany were invited to share relevant ideas so as to enhance promotion and implementation of lifestyle changes. MOENV Deputy Minister Shih Wen- chen, Director of the German Institute Taipei Hubertus von Morr, and Mariana Nicolau, Senior Project Manager from the Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP) in Germany, launched and attended the seminar.

The MOENV stated that CSCP Senior Project Manager Ms. Nicolau was invited to share experiences in promoting lifestyle changes, aiming to raise public awareness of green living and facilitate discussions on the practical aspects of lifestyle transformation.

Ms. Nicolau pointed out that merely disseminating knowledge is not enough to change people's behaviors because of the numerous obstacles in transforming knowledge into actions. Therefore, it is necessary to employ effective communication, understand the needs of various groups, and identify motivations for behavioral change for implementation of suitable strategies, environmental infrastructures, and incentives. And sharing with friends and family can significantly facilitate changes in the public’s habits. Additionally, General Manager Yvonne Tsai of O’right, a cosmetic company in Taiwan, talked about how her company makes use of internal workplace design to help guide its employees to adopt changes. For instance, its efforts in promoting the use of electric vehicles among employees include reserving dedicated parking spaces specifically for electric vehicles and placing them in a close proximity to the clocking-in machine. Furthermore, foot- operated faucets are installed in the company’s restrooms, replacing sensor-activated ones that rely on continuous power and hence lowering energy consumption.

On issues related to a circular and sharing economy, Dr. Chen Hsien-ting from Merck KGaA shared his company’s use of smart liquid crystal windows to control indoor temperatures and lighting for energy efficiency. In terms of corporate governance, the corporation has introduced smart manufacturing and promoted science education, utilizing plastic waste to make stationery items. Furthermore, Dr. Tsou Wen-po from Taiwan Toy Library Association shared their approach that is similar to how a library operates. Unneeded toys are collected, arranged, and made available to children in disused spaces in schools, as well as brought to disadvantaged kids in remote areas by a van that also serves as a mobile toy shop. Moreover, Chang Yu-chin Taiwan branch manager of EPEA, a German design company that subscribes to the cradle-to-cradle idea, shared its design concept. He spoke about how to use good product design to achieve a circular economy, such as disassembling materials like plastic or glass for reuse in the manufacturing process, and extending producers’ responsibilities through a circular recycling system.

As for goals and strategies for transition toward a zero-waste lifestyle, Dr. Laura Spengler from Ökopol Institute in Hamburg, Germany, mentioned that the German Federal Environmental Agency (UBA) provides the public with a personal carbon emission calculator. The UBA also promotes carbon reduction actions through posters, graphics, and website information. Additionally, Engineer Sun Po-ling from the Industrial Technology Research Institute spoke of their efforts to develop a preliminary framework for calculating personal carbon emissions in Taiwan by studying indicators of individual carbon reduction currently used abroad. This framework includes case studies related to diet, travel, and lifestyle, serving as a reference for facilitation of lifestyle transformation policies.

This seminar facilitated discussions among representatives from NGOs and enterprises in both Germany and Taiwan on how to raise public awareness of green living and change of habits and also experiences in promoting a sharing economy among industries. All of this will provide valuable insights for refining future lifestyle transformation strategies.

Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, November 2023

Ministry of Environment