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Transformation of Recycling Army Program into Recycler Care Program Gives More Help to Disadvantaged Recyclers

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The EPA has been promoting the Recycler Care Program (資收關懷計畫) for over three years, aimed at caring for individual recyclers with low to medium incomes. Measures such as guaranteed-price acquisition, home collection and transportation, and micro-insurance have been adopted. The entire funding from the original Recycling Army Program (資收大軍計畫) has been transformed and used to promote the Recycler Care Program, with a focus on providing better care for disadvantaged recyclers and subsidizing local promotion efforts.

In 2017, the EPA launched the Recycling Army Program. The original plan employed low-income individual recyclers commonly seen on the streets to assist cleaning squads and communities in waste sorting to improve recycling quality. The maximum working hours per month were twenty-five, with a maximum payment of around NT$4,200. After two years of implementation, in order to care for the disadvantaged recyclers more directly, the EPA consolidated various suggestions from the public and incorporated a new recycler care program into the original plan, with subsidies higher than market prices to encourage recyclers to recover recyclables and mitigate the impact of market price fluctuations. In addition, the program later included supplementary measures such as home collection and transportation services, environmental improvement counseling, and micro-insurance services.

The Recycler Care Program currently provides five major measures: 1) A guaranteed-price acquisition subsidy, offering 2-3 times the market price to purchase recyclables, with a monthly limit of NT$5,000; 2) Home collection and transportation services, providing clearance and transportation services for recyclables at recyclers’ homes by appointment if necessary; 3) Supplemental epidemic prevention equipment, purchasing epidemic prevention materials such as masks and face shields, and providing them to recyclers; 4) Micro-insurance, helping recyclers to purchase micro-insurance; 5) Environmental improvement services, conducting site cleaning and disinfection in the storage areas of recyclers.

The Recycler Care Program has been fruitful. The recycling volume reached 9,215 metric tons in 2020 and increased to 13,510 metric tons in 2022, a growth of almost 1.5 times. The program targeted low-to-middle-income recyclers and offered a higher purchase price based on their actual recyclable collection volume, unlike the Recycling Army Program, part of which did not target individual recyclers of low-to-middle income. Therefore, the EPA notified environmental protection bureaus three years ago to gradually reduce the scale of the Recycling Army Program and transform it into the Recycler Care Program. Currently, there are still funds available for local environmental protection bureaus to apply for the expansion of the program. In the future, the EPA will review the implementation of the Recycler Care Program that has taken over as the new program and continue to adjust the implementation on a rolling basis. Considering that the Recycler Care Program can provide more substantive assistance to individual recyclers with higher purchase prices and help the growth of their actual recyclable collection volume, the focus of promotion has gradually shifted from the Recycling Army Program to the Recycler Care Program.

Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, March 2023
Ministry of Environment