Giant on the move
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.