Converting waste to greenery : The Taiwan experience
1Baushuan Ger, 2Chin-Tsan Wang
1Representative of Taiwan, 2Director of Science & Technology Division, Taipei Economic and Culture Center (TECC), India
Preventing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by converting agricultural wastes into environment value addition seems to be a feasible solution to fight air pollution globally. A circular economy converting agricultural wastes into value-added and eco-friendly products, such as bioethanol or bioplastics is possible. Besides increasing farmers’ income, it can also fundamentally solve the environmental pollution caused by the burning of agricultural wastes.
In Taiwan, a win-win circular economy framework has been implemented effectively on solving environmental pollution and creating economic value which is different from the “take-make-waste” traditional linear model. On the contrary, an advanced circular economy model has been adopted by systematic design to keep products with recyclable features, enhance resource utilization, eliminate waste, avoid pollution of the natural environment, and achieve the principles of 3Rs (Reduce, Recycle and Reuse). Among them, the cycle in a circular economy, uses agricultural wastes as biomass raw materials, which are converted into value-added and environmentally beneficial renewable energy or bio-chemicals through bio-refinery technologies. Those related technologies are gradually entering the phase of mature development and a sustainable approach for moving towards an organic circular economy as is shown.
For its sizable rice fields in the eastern part of the country, including a “Demo Site of Sustainable Economy and Energy” located in Hualien County, Taiwan owns its potential for lignocellulose-rich biomass resources, revealing in the framework of an organic circular economy. Here, Taiwan- India cooperation can create a prospective win-win situation in the future. Taking rice straw as an example, alternative fuels such as bio-ethanol or briquette is used to generate bio-power as a syngas instead of natural gas. They do not produce air pollutants like PM2.5 and simultaneously solve the problems of agricultural wastes and air pollution. As for the final remaining residue and slurry from biogas production, those natural organic fertilizers can also be returned to farmland to solve the problem of soil acidification caused by the use of chemical fertilizers.
The development of bioplastics is a manifestation of low carbon footprint in the age of bio-recycling economy. As micro-plastics pose a health risk, a growing number of governments have started to limit and reduce the use of plastics. Therefore, using biomass to produce bioplastics will create new industries and output values. This will lead to a reduction in the dependence on petrochemical plastics as well as indirectly reduce carbon emissions. In addition to being reused, bioplastics based on biomass can also be converted into renewable energy like briquette and organic fertilizers, making recycling and utilization of bioplastics more diversified.
Looking at post-COVID-19 pandemic, politicians, experts, and scholars in many countries have proposed this idea of developing an organic circular economy to expand emerging green industries and drive the growth of the green economy. At present, Taiwan has benefited from many years of technical green energy and promotional experiences in organic circular economic projects such as biomass energy, bioplastics, and various green technologies to fight air pollution. Now the "5+2 industrial innovation program" of regional links will be implemented under the government’s promotion of the New Southbound Policy (NSP) through Taiwan-India bilateral scientific and technological cooperation.
The Taipei Economic and Culture Center (TECC) in India is willing to work with India in promoting green energy, organic circular economy industry, and create a bridge between India and Taiwan’s technology. A closer and diversified connection can be greatly strengthened between Taiwan and India, agricultural waste can be reduced, farmers’ income will increase, air quality will improve and organic circular economy business will create and meet diversified demand goals for the Indian government, by way of the opportunities and channels fostering bilateral technological exchange.