How Taiwan went from “garbage island” to one of the best recycling rates

June 2019—Taiwan garbage problem used to be so bad, citizens revolted. So they instituted a set of policies, including a fund to subsidize recycling, a pay as you throw fee, and waste to energy plants. Education was a key component.

Today, Taiwan’s 55% recycling rate is among the highest the world, up from virtually zero three decades ago. For comparison, the U.S. recycling rate is 34.7% and the European Union’s is 46%. The average Taiwanese person produces 850 grams (1.9 pounds) of waste daily, down from 1.2 kilograms (2.6 pounds) 15 years ago. In the U.S., the average was 4.4 pounds per person per day in 2013. This year, Taiwan committed to banning all single-use plastics — including bags, disposable cups, utensils and straws — by 2030.