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Rubbish collection in Taiwan

Our new flat has a cheaper rental but everything has a hidden cost. One of the differences in the new flat is that we now need to manage the trash ourselves (in the other flat the people managing the building took care of it), and we had to learn how it works in Taipei (Taiwan in general).

For general garbage the city of Taipei currently runs a scheme ( “Per Bag Trash Collection Fee”) where households and companies purchase (5 TWD each bag) specially printed blue bin bags, and place waste in it. The municipal waste management department collects only rubbish placed within these special bags.

This scheme encourages usage of recyclable packaging, as those do not need a special bag and are disposed free of charge. We actually do it properly :)

That seems to be a good approach as Taipei’s waste volume is down 35.08%, and recycling has increased 2.6-fold from 1999.

The second interesting detail is that, as the space is so scarce in Taiwan and it is located in a subtropical area (hot and humid), there are no garbage containers at all to save space and to avoid bad smells. In Taiwan, people have to carry and dump them right into the garbage truck.

  • Every day, except Sundays and Wednesdays, a trash truck will pass your neighborhood between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m., at precisely what time is something you have to find out (in our case 21:20-21:30 and it stops in front of our house). To let people know that the truck is approaching, it plays a special tune: “Für Elise” (Beethoven) or “A Maiden’s Prayer” (Tekla B Darzewska-Baranowska)
  • Taipei City dwellers emerge from their apartment buildings, head to the gathering point to dump the garbage. It is a rare opportunity for a brief time of bonding among neighbors. It is the only time you would meet some rarely seen neighbors and even have a little chat with them, though only for five to ten minutes.
  • The trash is then dumped into different trucks (general garbage, food, paper, plastic and bottles). Monday and Friday paper is collected. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday bottles. Wednesday and Sunday there is no trash collection.

You can see the full sequence in this video:

The tune of the garbage truck has even inspired artists like Moshang (South African living in Taichung) to compose some of their songs.

2 Comments

    Que momento… para que te conozca el vecindario. Prefiero el para elisa q no el butanero q te despierta repicando cada mañana
    Un abrazo. Ciao

  • Per cert, que esteu mes modernitzats que nosaltres a Pittsburgh. Aqui nomes et recullen les escombraries un cop per setmana (al nostre barri dilluns), i cada quinze dies venen a recollir la de reciclatge. Els cubells grans d’escombraries els tenim a casa nostra, i si es hivern, vale, no fa pudor, pero els has de desenterrar de la nostra. Despres els diumenges a la nit els treiem al carrer i els senyors escombriaires ho tiren al seu camio. La setmana que toca reciclatge, tots els envasos i papers els posem en bosses blaves de plastic, sino ho tiren a la brossa normal.

    En fi… tanto USA, pa que?

    Un petonet