Changing China

Giant on the move

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What, this old junk?


Discarded computer parts

Before the triangular symbol taught us to recycle, reduce and reuse, recycling in Taiwan worked this way:

Early morning or late at night, a man riding a tricycle trailed a small wagon and his long shadow through an alley piled with waste under a lone street light. He collected the brown glass Taiwan Beer bottles, from a wedding banquet, possibly, and placed them into his wagon. Sometimes he hollered “Empty wine bottles for sale?”

People who make a living out of recycled waste are still visible on the island of 35,000 square kilometres, crammed with a population of 23 million.

Today, plastic bottles are turned into blankets for disaster relief. The Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation has been collecting plastic bottles from Taipei, a city of 2.6 million, for the past three years and converting them into about 244,000 polyester blankets intended for disaster zones. Read a related story here.