::: Monthly News

The EPA Thanks Taoyuan with 450 World-pioneered “Xuanbaoyui” from 96% PET Bottles from the Ocean

After the “EPA Project for Making Recycled Clothes with Marine-Littered PET Bottles”, Deputy Minister Chih-Hsiu Shen of the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) visited today (23rd) the Caota Dunes Landscape Museum in Guanyin, Taoyuan, and presented 450 xuanbaoyi (lit. clothes recycled from marine debris) made with recycled PET bottles found in the ocean to Deputy Director-General Yu-Te Chiang of the Taoyuan Department of Environmental Protection (TYPED) to express the support and efforts of Taoyuan City in the project.

To challenge the use of only PET bottles from coastal clean-ups across Taiwan as the raw material, the EPA invited eight waste collection and processing companies and textile companies to develop the “xuanbaoyi” using 96% of yarns recycled from marine-littered PET bottles and 4% of stretch yarns through collaboration with international-class certification bodies. The aim is to develop fabrics using recycled PET bottles with state-of-the-art technology. The key problem in making the “xuanbaoyi” is, as marine-littered PET bottles are soaked in seawater and exposed under direct sunlight, after carefully cleaning up and removing impurities from the bottles, textile companies need to overcome the unfavorable conditions including decolorization, yellowing, and shorter yarn length to turn PET bottles into fibers. In this experimental project, only 3.8 of 8MT of collected marine debris could be used as raw materials. Eventually, a total of 1,500 “xuanbaoyi” were made. Compared to terrestrial waste that needs only eight PET bottles for one “xuanbaoyi”, it took 20 marine-littered PET bottles for one piece, making the “marine xuanbaoyi” much more valuable.

According to TYPED Deputy Director-General Yu-Te Chiang, statistics show that about 8 million MT of plastic waste enter the ocean, “marine debris may be more than fish one day”. Marine life may get hurt or even killed by marine debris, such as strangling and unintended swallowing. In addition, plastics can be decomposed by sunlight and sea waves into grain-sized microplastics to harm marine life and human beings through the food chain. In view of this, besides making efforts in reducing single-use plastic products, Taoyuan also considers the recycling and reuse of marine debris to reduce the environmental load. In June 2019, Taoyuan City started cooperation with Oriental Green Materials Limited headquartered in the Guanyin Eco-Technology Park in the city. This company is specialized in recycling marine-littered bottles into recycled yarns. After coast watch volunteers collected marine-littered PET bottles, Oriental Green Materials recycles them into high-quality PET-recycled yarns for making eco-jogging wear to repay volunteers with high contribution to coast protection. This is also Far Eastern Group’s highest salutation for volunteers. To Taoyuan, it is a great honor to participate in the EPA’s “Marine Debris High Quality-Added Eco-Application Demonstration Project”. Despite the pandemic’s interference, marine watch volunteers continued to collect up to 3.12MT of marine-littered PET bottles with all efforts during April-May 2020 to make this project becomes a reality to demonstrate the pursuit of marine environmental sustainability through the collaboration of the central and local governments.

According to EPA Deputy Minister Chih-Hsiu Shen, at the county and city opinion exchange meeting at the end of 2019, [EPA] Executive Secretary Hsu-Ming Yen actively asked the opinions of the environmental protection personnel in local governments: “How to reduce marine debris burden through recycling to enhance the value-added use of waste?” The TYDEP Director-General Li-De Lu enthusiastically suggested that there are many textile factories in Taoyuan that specialized in making garments with fibers recycled from PET bottles. Besides exporting products overseas, these factories even made sportswear for the FIFA World Cup. On hearing this, the EPA Deputy Minister Shen came up with an idea that the EPA Recycle Fund Management Board (EPA-RFMB) can take this opportunity to establish a process for processing marine-littered PET bottles and the standard operating procedures (SOP) for recycling them into eco-products because no internationally accepted certification standard is available. In 2020, the EPA introduced the “Marine Debris High Quality-Added Eco-Application Demonstration Project” and called upon Taoyuan, Chiayi, Pingtung, and counties and cities with large amount of marine debris, and to initiate coastal clean-ups to collect marine debris. In the meantime, the EPA also actively recruited eight companies interested in the project. In Taoyuan, Oriental Green Materials Limited was responsible for the front-end PET bottle crashing, and Super Textile Corporation was responsible for the back-end “xuanbaoyi” manufacturing. Apparently, “this project has proved that Taiwan is capable of processing marine-littered PET bottles.” These 1,500 “xuanbaoyi” were made with only 8% of marine-littered PET bottles collected every year. If we can continue to improve our plastic recycling technology, it is hoped that all marine-littered PET bottles, about 47MT, collected in a year can be reused.

The EPA has applied to the Intellectual Property Office (TIPO), MOEA, for the world’s pioneered “Marine Debris Recycled Project Mark”. In the future, the EPA will establish a certification system for worldwide manufacturers to certify their products recycled from marine debris to encourage manufacturers to optimize technology and produce products recycled from marine debris for consumers 

The TYDEP Deputy Director-General Chiang added, Taoyuan City has pioneered the marine watch volunteer team in Taiwan to engage in coastal clean-up diligently. Currently, the city has 17 teams with 604 volunteers adopting a coastal area of up to 335 hectares, equivalent to 305 basketball courts. These teams clean up the coast once a month regardless of the weather. In 2020, they engaged in 894 coastal clean-ups to clean up to 87.2MT waste, including 5.5MT of PET bottles. During the project period, however, volunteers must register, report in forms, take photos, and weigh the collected PET bottles before calling the Taoyuan Environmental Maintenance and Inspection Division (TYEMID) to pick them up. It was a tiresome process. As plastics are the major type of marine debris, such as plastic straws, PET bottles, and plastic bags, if no proper action is taken, they will flow into the ocean and strangle marine life, many marine lives die after unintentionally swallowing them. Furthermore, plastic waste can be decomposed by sunlight and sea waves into grain-sized “microplastics” to harm marine life and human beings through the food chain. For marine environmental protection, Taoyuan City has established 95 environmental protection fleets and an environmental protection diving team with 133 volunteer divers to clean up and maintain the coast and ocean from inside out, particularly the recycling and reuse of marine-littered PET bottles.

The Taoyuan Office of Coast Administration Construction (TYOCAC) urges marine debris recycling can form part of the circular economy. Manufacturers in Taoyuan with outstanding performance are welcome to join the “Environmental Protection National Team” to make more innovations. The TYOCAC organizes coastal clean-up activities every quarter to invite aliens in different parts of Taiwan to clean up the coast together, in order to demonstrate “environmental protection without frontier” and the collective contribution to environmental protection. The TYOCAC also reminds us, “plastics reduction at the source” is easy to achieve. Just bring your own water bottle and buy less bottled water and fewer single-use plastic products, such as plastic bags, disposable tableware, takeaway beverage cups, and plastic straws. All these can help reduce plastics in the environment. Just a little change can reduce plastic.

Attendees of the event today included the EPA Deputy Minister Chih-Hsiu Shen, the TYDEP Deputy Director-General Yu-Te Chiang, the EPA-RFMB Deputy Executive Secretary Wen-Yi Wei, the Super Textile VP Hsia-Ning Luo, the TYOCAC Director Li-Chang Lin, the TYEMID Guanyin Team Leader Cheng-Wu Huang, the Baiyu Coast Watch Team, the Guanyin Coast Watch Team, the Shulin Coast Watch Team, the Baosheng Community Coast Watch Team, the Yongan Coast Watch Team, the Bengang Coast Watch Team, and the Qianguwan Coast Watch Team.

 

The EPA Thanks Taoyuan with 450 World-pioneered “Xuanbaoyui” from 96% PET Bottles from the Ocean

 

The EPA Thanks Taoyuan with 450 World-pioneered “Xuanbaoyui” from 96% PET Bottles from the Ocean

 

The EPA Thanks Taoyuan with 450 World-pioneered “Xuanbaoyui” from 96% PET Bottles from the Ocean

 

The EPA Thanks Taoyuan with 450 World-pioneered “Xuanbaoyui” from 96% PET Bottles from the Ocean