Taipei City currently has three municipal solid waste treatment incinerators, and one sanitary landfill, allowing for waste downcycling. Due to limited space and a dense population, there is little land available for collecting and managing waste. To achieve the goal of sustainable development, in 2010 the Taipei City Government set a goal of “Total Recycling, Zero Landfill by 2020”, aiming at maximizing resource recycling, minimizing waste incineration, and terminating the use of landfills. “Trash Per-bag Fee Collection Policy”, as one of the initiatives to support the goal, has already been launched so as to reach the 2020 goal.
Taipei City Government issued trash bags in all specifications (3, 5, 14, 25, 33, 76 and 120 litres). The bigger the bag is, the more expensive it is. Citizens can purchase the appropriate volume of trash bags based on their own demand. Labelling each bag for anti-counterfeit security is a unique method to curb illegal activities. In this direction, an amendment of the Waste Disposal Act was made in 2001 regarding the punishment for counterfeiting, modification or illegal-selling of garbage, and the use of private bags for waste.
Not all kind of waste can be thrown into the municipal garbage bags: Taipei City Government therefore arranged strategic planning so as to educate citizens in selecting and separating the different types of trash.
People in Taipei alone produced over 1.2 million tons garbage in 1999. After the Trash Per-bag Fee Collection Policy was implemented, the garbage amount was gradually reduced to about 830,000 tons in 2013, while the recycling amount increased from 23,000 tons in 1999 to 466,000 tons in 2013. Approximately one-third of garbage generated per year in Taipei has been reduced through the implementation of this policy. It can be observed that the amounts of garbage for respectively clean-up process and recycling process are almost at the same level. Indeed, this policy effectively encouraged people to recycle. Taipei City paid more attention to collect the household waste from 2003.
Fig. Variation of various kinds of garbage in Taipei City after launch of Trash Per-bag Fee Collection Policy.
Taipei City Government pioneered in implementing this new type of regulation and standards. In other cities, the trash collection fee is assessed per household, based on the volume of water used, under the assumption that more water use indicated a larger household, and thus larger volumes of waste. However, as the fee is not directly linked to the actual waste volume, it might fail to motivate towards waste recycling. The Trash Per-bag Fee Collection Policy is considerably successful to encourage citizens to make less waste even though some voices of opposition emerge.
At present, only Taipei City, New Taipei City and Shigang District of Taichung City are implementing this “pay as you throw” policy. Taipei was even awarded “2001 Waste Management Excellent Award” by the Regional Institute of Environmental Technology, which is a not-for-profit organisation established to promote effective environment technology throughout Asia. Since in Taiwan the trash disposal is linked to the water use, not all regions were under pressure to introduce this tax, but they could decrease their waste volume by raising awareness on the matter among their citizens.
Since the concept has been deployed successfully, the maturity of this policy measure is estimated to be 9 on the GML scale.