What's Going On Here?
At a time when many of us are trying our best to reduce our environmental footprint, it can be both uplifting, as well as disheartening, to learn about the sustainability efforts of other countries. Some are doing a fantastic job of setting ambitious targets, whilst others appear to be lagging behind.
At a global level, Taiwan has performed well on cutting carbon emissions. Despite the growth in GDP, between 2005-2017 emissions only grew 0.9%, vastly outperforming its Asian neighbours. They have also committed to reducing emissions to 50% of 2005 levels by 2050 - an ambitious target!
What Does This Mean?
These are EVERYWHERE. Perhaps most shocking is the use of single-use paper and plastic in restaurants. In smaller food outlets, when sitting inside, you receive your food in a throwaway bowl, with single-use chopsticks and spoons.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Once known as ‘garbage island’ with landfills almost at capacity, Taiwan has achieved a major turnaround and now has an impressive recycling rate of 55% thanks to government intervention.
However, it’s not hard to see that more could be done to encourage the use of reusable products. Coffee, bubble tea and other extremely popular consumables are all served in disposables and even with a good recycling system, clearly more must be done to reduce usage at source.
Meat consumption in Taiwan seems high. Taiwan is the 22nd richest country in the world and has a rapidly burgeoning middle-class. This typically drives increased meat consumption and Taiwan seems no exception, with beef consumption growing by 50% between 2008-2018.
Even though they love Tofu here, meat is most definitely king and their heavy reliance on beef and pork imports from countries with poor animal agriculture records isn’t the most sustainable.
The future is most definitely not wholly negative for sustainability in Taiwan.
It is seemingly few countries in the world right now with excellent governance. Everything works well, people are happy, the streets are extremely clean, and people generally trust their government to do the right thing.
That government has just committed to being single-use plastic free by 2030! Usually I take these kinds of commitments from governments with a pinch of salt but judging by Taiwan’s previous efforts at change, I have every faith they can achieve this.
Fun Fact - Taiwanese rubbish collection involves playing a loud cheery tune outside every house to encourage people to bring their rubbish out – and it seems to work!