Asia Pacific Circular Economy Roundtable: Discovering New Opportunities for Industrial Transformation

Taiwan Circular Economy Network will host the “2019 Asia Pacific Circular Economy Roundtable - New Frontier”, part of the Taiwan Circular Economy Week series, from October 16 to 18 at Kaohsiung Exhibition Center. The forum provides a platform for participants to share global industry trends in circular economy and present actual implementation results of Taiwanese enterprises. Today (Sep. 19) the Network hosted a press conference to promote and introduce the forum. The event was held in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and co-organizers Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), Taiwan Sugar Corporation (TSC), Taiwan Power Company (Taipower), Chinese Petroleum Corporation (CPC), and China Steel Corporation (CSC).
Speakers at this very first Asia Pacific Circular Economy Roundtable include Janez Potočnik, Co-chair of the UNEP International Resource Panel; 14 international experts from various international companies, including global material manufacturer DSM; and also representatives from 49 Taiwanese enterprises, such as Hair O'right International Corp., Far Eastern New Century Corporation, and Taiwan Sugar Corporation. The speakers will share their observations on global market trends, actual enterprise application experiences, and specific transformation tools. In addition to presenting the current progress of circular economy in Taiwan, the venue is designed according to circular economy principles and concepts, and offers five exhibition routes with different themes to demonstrate a comprehensive circular economy experience.
MOEA Deputy Minister Tseng Wen-sheng mentioned that circular economy is one of the major 5+2 industry innovation policies launched by the government. It is an important industrial transformation strategy for Taiwanese industries, and a necessary shift for companies working with international supply chains. The MOEA, which is responsible for launching such policies, rolled out the “Circular Economy Promotion Plan" last year. By examining Taiwan’s overall material flow and usage from a circular economy perspective, the Plan aims to improve recycling efficiency and percentage of different recycled materials, and reduce the amount of waste that goes into incinerators or landfills.
Starting with CPC, CSC, Taipower, and TSC, the Ministry will gradually apply circular economy policies onto the companies’ major material recycling procedures. The eventual goal is to achieve industrial symbiosis, resource productivity, and co-exist in harmony with the environment. Recycling can extend the life cycle of resources or even endlessly reuse them. It can greatly reduce waste and pollution problems and successfully introduce circular economy concepts into every industry. Thus the Ministry invited state-owned enterprises, ITRI, Taiwan Circular Economy Network, and other companies to assemble at the Asia Pacific Circular Economy Roundtable to collectively discover new opportunities for Taiwanese industries and set up a platform to connect with global economic trends.
“To promote circular economy, EPA devised a Resource Recycling and Recovery Plan (2018-2020), which focuses on the perspectives of material production, consumption, waste management, and regrind market through integrating cross-departmental promotion strategies and measures, and uses performance indicators such as resource productivity and cyclical use rate for evaluation,” said EPA Director Ying-ying Lai. “In addition, with the establishment of individual task forces for multiple kinds of resources by government and the green deals between industries, we are gradually achieving the goals of maximum resource recycling and minimum waste treatment.” Lai further stressed that Taiwan Circular Economy Week is the first event organized by governmental forces in a cross-departmental collaboration to demonstrate the results of circular economy implementation. The event starts off with the Taiwan Circular Economy Summit in Taipei, which features circular economy research and policy. It will be followed by the “Asia Pacific Circular Economy Roundtable” and the inauguration of the “Taiwan Circular Economy (TCE) 100” in Kaohsiung. Organized by the joint collaboration of MOEA and EPA, these events not only feature the government’s administrative efforts but also recognize the contributions from private enterprises. “Through discussions and personnel interactions at Taiwan Circular Economy Week, we hope to promote a circular economy and drive Taiwan to becoming a circular economy hotspot in Asia,” added Lai.

Taiwan Circular Economy Network Chairman Charles Huang expressed that in circular economy, we must look forward for next 20 years and let the children born today have a better future, which mean circular economy is also our responsibility to next generations. The key is to put resources in the right place and create value, and this would require systematic collaborations between industries and fields to realize. Luckily, Taiwan has a complete industry chain, which is an advantage in linking resources. Furthermore, SMEs in Taiwan are flexible and have a bigger advantage when entering this new market, since larger enterprises, which were successful in the past linear economy, would need to undergo a major overhaul to keep up with the new trends. A circular economy environment also offers a lot of opportunities for new startups as the new model follows a completely different production and usage logic than past economic models, presenting a brand new slate for innovative business models.
ITRI Executive Vice President Alex Y.M. Peng expressed that sustainability has become a common topic for governments and enterprises around the world. Companies are shifting towards manufacturing recyclable products, for instance, a lot of major international enterprises announced they will be using recycled materials. Taiwan already has strong manufacturing capabilities and is part of the worldwide industry chain. By implementing circular economy concepts and technologies in local industries as soon as possible, Taiwan could become one of the leading players in the coming green circular economy ecosystem and supply chain. ITRI continues to innovate available technology and brainstorm solutions with major enterprises in Taiwan. Some existing examples include TSC’s clam shell recycling technology, Taipower's CO2 capture technology implementation, and CSC's basic-oxygen-furnace slag high-value transformation technology. High-level recycling technologies can boost the role of Taiwanese industries in the global recycling technology field, generating an advantage for local companies to seize the latest business opportunities.
Green chemistry solutions provider Everlight Chemical Industrial Corp. also shared the company's experiences in implementing circular economy practices. Chairman James Chen remarked that it is indeed a challenge to incorporate circular economy concepts into the existing manufacturing model. Besides figuring out how to integrate related technology and ideas, the company also has to consider market demands. Nevertheless, Everlight Chemical creatively found a way to reduce ammonia and nitrogen levels in wastewater, and also overhauled existing equipment to reduce manufacturing time and the amount of raw material used. The company insists on using green chemistry manufacturing technologies for clean productions, a change which can effectively bring down energy use and raw material consumption, and consequently cut down possible pollution. Everlight Chemical has acquired ISO 14001 certification and has been awarded the Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility Award for seven consecutive years. Their 2020 vision is to become a happy globalized enterprise which continuously innovates and provides green chemistry solutions.
The Asia Pacific Circular Economy Roundtable will be held between October 16 and 18 at Kaohsiung Exhibition Center. The event is directed by the MOEA and EPA, organized by Taiwan Circular Economy Network and co-organized by ITRI and the four major state-owned businesses. Speakers include a high-level UN expert, and 14 international speakers from the UK, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, the Philippines, Singapore, China, and Japan; and local speakers from 49 Taiwanese companies which had implemented circular economy practices. Five circular economy exhibition routes with five respective themes (Agro Cycle, Textile Cycle, Metal Cycle and Cross-sector Cooperation, Plastic, Energy Efficiency and Industrial Symbiosis) will also be unveiled to offer the 400 attendees from home and abroad an experience to further understand circular economy. Participants are encouraged to discuss and exchange ideas on the new opportunities brought about by circular economy and together seek a suitable circular economy development direction for the Asia-Pacific region.