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Industrial Waste Control Aligns with Global Trend

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Industrial waste is an important target of the overall waste control under the policies aiming for a circular economy as well as recycling and zero waste. On 1 March, during its report at the Legislative Yuan, the EPA emphasized that future revisions will focus on an overall change that is centered on resource recycling, while keeping abreast of the latest international recycling trends. Through amending the Waste Disposal Act (廢棄物清理法), the EPA will redefine what constitutes “wastes” in order to maximize resource utilization and minimize waste generation.

The principles of the current industrial waste control policies are as follows:

1. Enhance management of industrial waste reuse

Based on Article 31 of the Waste Disposal Act, the EPA will incorporate the reuse checklist as part of the industrial waste disposal plan for evaluation, along with qualifications for receiving wastes, manufacturing production and facilities, and product quality. Reuse is not permitted until after the EPA’s evaluation and approval. A set of evaluation guidelines has also been formulated for waste reuse and serves as a reference that clearly quantifies evaluation items mentioned above.

2. Carrying out quality and flow controls of reuse products

To strengthen quality control on reuse products and better track their flows, on 15 December 2022, the EPA announced the revised Management Regulations for Reuse of Industrial Wastes (事業廢棄物再利用管理辦法). In the revised version, public and private waste clearance and disposal enterprises are mandated to use approved vehicles for operation when commissioned to clean up reused industrial wastes, and comply with newly added regulations on usage locations, quality standards, inspection frequencies concerning reuse products. Revisions also specify sales targets, vehicles and machinery for clearance and transport, reports, and manifest submissions, and mandated improvements within a period of time or the enforcement of a temporary halt to accept wastes when certain reuse products do not meet the qualifications. There are other new regulations concerning reuse operations, sales, transportation of reuse products to usage locations, etc. All of the above aim to better track and manage where reuse products finally end up, which is also consistent with how public and private waste clearance and disposal enterprises manage their operations.

3. Flow reports and controls

Taiwan’s system for controlling industrial wastes uses technological tools to keep track of where wastes are generated and headed while being disposed of. Not only are clearance and transporting vehicles and machinery outfitted with GPS for tracking and monitoring during their operation, but their operations are verified with data reported by industry enterprises as well as industrial waste clearance, treatment, and disposal organizations. Each local environmental bureau is in charge of inspections, reports any violations, and assists in the EPA’s secondary audits in order to better manage industrial wastes and track their flows.

Announcements have been made according to the Waste Disposal Act that enterprises reaching a certain scale are to submit their industrial waste disposal plans and report waste generation, clearance and transportation, disposal and other related operations online. So far over 43,000 waste-generating enterprises have been listed for control, and as of early December 2022, a total of 17,285 clearance and transporting vehicles had been outfitted with GPS. Moreover, enterprises listed for control are provided with the following four tools in order to encourage paper-free registration and manifest submission:

(1) An electronic manifest app. The real-time transmission makes management easier for enterprises.

(2) A batch manifest submission service that resolves the trouble for enterprises needing to report manifests individually.

(3) Interface programs were developed to integrate the industrial waste reporting system with the industries’ own systems. Enterprises can use the interface program to report if they have established their own waste management systems.

(4) Reporting modules formed by using historical templates or templates created by enterprises that were well rated when they were launched.

Since September 2019, enterprises that use the app have reported more than 110,000 manifests through electronic manifests, and 70 enterprises have opted for the batch reporting service. Previously, enterprises not part of those listed for control (small-scale clinics, for instance) were required to fill out a paper delivery manifest in sextuplicates. After the EPA announced the revised Methods and Facilities Standards for the Storage, Clearance and Disposal of Industrial Waste (事業廢棄物貯存清除處理方法及設施標準) on 16 February 2022 and completed developing a relevant system at the same time, enterprises can now design their own apps to integrate the industrial waste reporting system with their own. The goal is to achieve paper-free reports of hazardous wastes, and to date 120,000 reports have been submitted, resulting in saving 720,000 paper manifests in total. Currently, there are four enterprises working on developing their integrating systems.

4. Facilitating waste reduction and recycling networks for waste-generating industries

(1) Promoting recycling and waste reduction in waste-generating industries with industrial waste disposal plans

On 9 May 2022, the EPA announced the Reference Guidelines for Evaluating Industrial Waste Disposal Plans (事業廢棄物清理計畫書審查作業參考指引). To respond to the demand for industries to add recycling and reuse for better waste reduction, the Guidelines have added three more recycling models on top of the original seven models, with which enterprises listed for control are able to utilize after evaluating authorities approve their disposal plans. This has led to facilitation of reuse of wastes or the recyclables within the factories or even across different ones, which in turn creates bigger recycling benefits. There is already one case of successful operation of a newly added recycling model after its industrial waste disposal plan was approved.

(2) Facilitating voluntary management within the recycling network

In 2022, the Guidelines for Evaluating Waste Disposal Plans Using Recycling Networks (資源循環網絡廢棄物清理計畫審查作業要點) were announced to achieve resource recycling and zero waste. Under the linear model of waste generation, clearance, and disposal (reuse), waste utilization and circulation within a recycling network has now been added and is able to connect the manufacturing process of two or more enterprises. With factors from raw materials to the overall lifespan of wastes taken into account, this model integrates the upper, middle, and lower parts of an industry, including supply of raw materials, product use, waste disposal (reuse), and seeks solutions to enhance production processes or better recycling or reuse of wastes. In this model, the waste-generating industries will adopt voluntary management and utilize the diverse waste registration mechanism in place. Applicants must be publicly listed companies and will be solely responsible for operating and managing the overall waste clearance network. Meanwhile, other enterprises within this network are to commit to collaborating with the applicants in supervision, management and assisting to establish a “virtual resource recycling network” together. This is a brand-new option for industries in their transition toward zero waste.

Future amendment prospects

The old mindset of waste management mostly focused on end-of-pipe controls. After a thorough review on unclear accountability on management as well as systematic changes, the EPA has now aligned with the global recycling trend by centering on resource recycling and circulation in order to enhance waste recycling and reuse. In addition, further amendments have been launched on the Waste Disposal Act so as to redefine what constitutes wastes, ultimately maximizing resource utilization and minimizing waste generation.

Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, February 2023
Ministry of Environment