Taiwan circular economy forum explores sustainability solutions


The 2023 Taiwan Circular Economy Forum held during the Sustainable Taiwan Expo in Kaohsiung from Nov. 22 to 24 brought together experts across industries to discuss challenges and solutions to build a green supply chain.

Representatives from Taiwan Institute for Sustainable Energy (TAISE), Formosa Plastics Group, Ernest & Young, and Effion Enertech jointed the forum to share their experiences and exchanged ideas to find the best approaches.

(Photo: TASS)

Green talent shortage and mushrooming net-zero regulations become new challenges

“Taiwan is the most important part of the global supply chain,” said Chairman Eugene Chien (簡又新) of TAISE during the forum. From a supply chain perspective, circular economy can help reduce more than 45% of the global greenhouse gas. However, rising material extraction has shrunk global circularity, decreasing from 8.6% in 2020 to 7.2% in 2030.

As geopolitical changes impact the exports of key materials, net-zero regulations emerge across the globe, product life cycle becomes more transparent as technology advanced, and green talents run short, it’s becoming increasingly challenging to achieve circular economy, Chien said.

He suggests Taiwanese companies gear up for the new challenges and identify the most cost-effective sustainable business model to increase their competitiveness in the global supply chain.

RECs, SBTi as pathway to carbon neutral by 2050

Huang Yi-chuan (黃溢銓), executive vice president of Formosa Plastics Group, shared the company’s strategies to achieve carbon neutral, including adopting AI to improve process, building renewable energy, purchasing renewable energy certificates (RECs) and carbon credits, as well as explores Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) methods.

After implementing these strategies, Formosa Plastics Group has cut emissions from 61.48 million tonnes in 2007 to 51.83 million tonnes in 2020, and reduced further to 47.29 million tonnes in 2022, a decrease of 23.1%. The company set 2007 as its benchmark, aiming to cut emissions by 20% and 35% in medium- and long-term goal.

To achieve long-term carbon reduction, Formosa Plastics Group will source low-carbon or zero-carbon energy, push forward circular economy, and build solar and wind energy. Its transition to low-carbon energy is expected to help reduce 32.41 million tonnes of carbon emissions.

In terms of technology, the company had partnered with academy institute to develop carbon capture and storage (CCS) but was hindered by high costs and extra emissions generated. The company calls for the government to support businesses by introducing advanced technologies and feasible carbon reduction methods.

Charting a roadmap to ESG value creation

Roger Tseng (曾于哲), partner of EY Taiwan Climate Change, Sustainability Services and ESG Advisory, explained why net-zero emissions matter. According to statistics by scientists, mankind will face approximately -25% of GDP loss if failing to cut emissions to zero. As a trading hub, businesses in Taiwan should collaborate with global corporates to achieve net-zero goal, Tseng said.

Tseng believed that innovation is Taiwan’s core strength in global supply chain, and encourages businesses to innovate in aspects such as process optimization and digital transformation. He suggested all industries act immediately, including adopting ISO 14064 for Scope 3 emissions calculation, using renewable energy and reach RE100 eventually, introducing internal carbon prices and carbon management.

Five major cycles contributing to zero waste

General Manager Liu Shih-zhi (劉思治) of Effion Enertech cautioned that there’s still a long way to achieve net zero despite the positive impact of circular economy on slowing climate change and resource depletion. Liu believes that to achieve sustainability requires the world’s population growth to slow down, major carbon emitters to cut emissions and change existing economy models, and adopt natural-based solutions such as carbon capture technology.

Effion Enertech achieves five major cycles through smart manufacturing and developing new materials, Liu said. For paper cycle, it recycles up to 97% of the used paper. For energy cycle, it generates steam and electricity used for paper production with waste, including lignin, marsh gas, and solid recovered fuels. For water cycle, it uses anaerobic digestion technique to break down the organic matter in the water and convert it into biogas in only four hours. 

In terms of carbon cycle, the company has planted more than 30,000 hectares of forests, realizing an industrial chain of carbon sequestration from afforestation to papermaking. In the agricultural cycle, it has created Biopulping (nPulp) from rice and wheat stalks after twelve years of research and development, which not only extends the economic benefits of food crops, but also tightens the connection between human and nature.

The five major cycles are interconnected to create bigger circular economy values, Liu said. He calls for professionals from all industries to collaborate via the platform of Sustainable Taiwan Expo and to jointly deepen circular economy in Taiwan.

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