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Taiwanese innovators turning garbage into gold (update)

2018/03/14 22:41:09

Image taken from Pixabay

Taipei, March 14 (CNA) Once dubbed a genius of garbage disposal, Taiwan has now gone one step further as its small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are turning waste into profitable products, applying the concept of a "circular economy," according to the SME Administration.

In a press briefing Tuesday, the SME Administration said some local companies have succeeded in creating low carbon, energy saving, sustainable and environmentally friendly businesses by recycling waste material.

For example, Get Green Energy Corp. (GGE) in Taichung has developed a technique to extract pure silicon powder and silicon carbon from waste produced by the semiconductor and solar energy sectors, said Wu Ming-ji (吳明機), head of the agency.

GGE's technique helps recycle more than 6,000 tons of slurry waste per month from solar and semiconductor factories, he said.

The silicon powder, hydrogen, silicon carbon and silicon dioxide extracted from the slurry are used in the production of lithium batteries, synthetic fiber, and other products, Wu said.

Also speaking at the press briefing, GGE Chairman Lee Lung-chin (李隆晉) said silicon-based materials have a wide range of uses, including the manufacture of shoe pads and vehicle tires.

In addition, the by-product hydrogen is a good antioxidant, Lee said, adding that his company is studying how it could be used in skin care products.

More important, the products made from the recycled waste can also be recycled, which is in line with the concept of a "circular economy," he said, referring to a system in which people keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them, then recover and regenerate other products and materials at the end of each service life.

Apart from GGE, Enrestec Inc., a Pingtung County-based technology company, has been applying this concept, extracting oil, carbon and wire from discarded tires.

The extracted products can be used to make fuel, new wire, diving suits, in-car foot pads and conveyer belts, according to Enrestec.

The SME Administration has assisted over 100 companies since 2013 to develop green business based on the concept of sustainability and innovation. Over the past six years, the production value of Taiwan's green industry has increased to NT$6.1 billion, with exports reaching NT$10 billion.

In May 2016 the Wall Street Journal published an article, titled "Taiwan: The World's Geniuses of Garbage Disposal," featuring Taiwan's transformation from a "garbage island" into "an international poster child for recycling" with a recycling rate of 55 percent in 2015, on par with international leaders like Australia, Germany and South Korea.

(By Liao Yu-yang and Elizabeth Hsu)