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How Taiwan ripe away from its nickname of “garbage island”?

Having one of the best recycle rate in the world, Taiwan used to be notorious for its mountains of garbage.

PANCHIAO, TAIWAN - 1991/09/01: A farmer whose field of vegetables and fruit runs alongside Panchiao garbage dump, just outside Taipei. (Photo by Gerhard Joren/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The garbage problem had existed in Taiwan for years. In 1979, local governments were collecting around 8,800 metro tonnes of municipal solid waste each day. After thirteen years, the number of garbage reached 21,900 tonnes per day. Nearly 90 percent of the waste collected was transferred straight into landfill. When all of the island’s landfills were full, garbage was then transported to an emergency site near Hsinchuang’s water pumping station.

Officers were worried that poor sanitation conditions would cause an outbreak of dengue fever. But still, this problem was not actively solved in three years. Residents in several cities started expressing their dissatisfaction by blockading landfills or rejecting the construction of a new landfill in 1996.

As Taiwan economy started booming, the government began to face the problem of mountains of garbage on the island. They take reference from their neighboring countries like Japan and South Korea in the way of handling trash. In 1998, lawmakers finally passed the Waste Disposal Act to reinforce the practice of recycling and attitude in waste reduction. With years of hard work, the recycling rate in Taiwan is significantly high. It is nearly impossible for people to find a litter bin in Taiwan’s capital city, Taipei.

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