Takin' Out the Trash
It was with some trepidation tonight that I took out the trash. Considering how long it took me to find the officially sanctioned garbage bags, hell, considering the fact that there are officially sanctioned garbage bags, I had reason to be a little nervous. Luckily everything went smoothly. There were plenty of other folks streaming over to the 3 garbage trucks and numerous trash bins spread out a block or so away from my apartment, so it was easy to just follow along. Just as I had been informed, today they were collecting plastic bottles, metal cans, and styrofoam along with the general trash we were all carrying in our blue Taipei City trash bags.
The waste collection system in Taiwan is an interesting case study in public policy. Taiwan, being an island, doesn't have an abundance of space for landfills, a fact that is further complicated by the high population density. The government's solution is to tax waste disposal(and thus creation) by requiring collected trash to be placed in official garbage bags. These bags are relatively expensive, but are only necessary for nonrecyclables. Recyclables can just be dumped into the appropriate bins. This system encourages both recycling and reuse and appears to be pretty effective.
One slightly annoying side effect of this legislation is that there are very few public trash bins in Taipei, and those that do exist are very small. It is annoying to have to cart around all your trash, but it is a necessary measure to prevent people from 'cheating' by dumping all their trash into public bins.