Taiwan considers allowing e-scrap imports

Taiwan considers allowing e-scrap imports

By Bobby Elliott, E-Scrap News

Nov. 14, 2013

Taiwan is one step closer to easing import regulations for at least a dozen types of scrap materials, including computers and household electronic goods, contending that they will be safely recycled.

The nation's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced plans to reclassify a long list of scrap metals as "general industrial waste" instead of hazardous waste. The reclassification would allow various scrap items to be imported into Taiwan, a prospect environmentalists have urged the government to avoid.

"The main objective of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is to restrict transboundary movements of hazardous wastes," Taiwan Watch Institute director Herlin Hsieh told the Taipei Times. "Taiwan is a small island that cannot afford to become a hazardous waste treatment center for other countries." Environmentalists have also been quick to point out that the island of Taiwan already has air, water and soil contamination issues due to the domestic scrap metal recycling industry.

According to the Taipei Times, the government has spent $142.5 million on river remediation after a Canadian researcher in 1983 called the heavily polluted Erjen River area "unsuitable for living."

If the Taiwan EPA goes ahead with its plans to define several scrap metals as general industrial waste, imports, especially of e-scrap, are expected to soar. EPA head Wu Tien-chi told Want China Times a public hearing would be held before any final decisions are made, although he added that he doubted the turnout would be substantial. "The door is always open but I am worried they will not come," Tien-chi said.

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