─ written by Charles Huang,
founder of Taiwan Circular Economy Network
Foreword by the former premier, Quan Lin :
“Charles Huang put his valuable experience gained from recent year’s devotion to circular economy into this book. Readers will see his worry about Taiwan’s future, but will also see his hope and confidence in the successful transformation of Taiwan’s industries.”
There is no country more urgently in need to adopt an economic development model based on resource circulation and regeneration than Taiwan.
Taiwan is a small, densely populated country that is deficient in natural resources. For the past half century, the Taiwanese economy has been built around producing goods for export. Taiwan is extremely reliant on imports, with more than 90% of energy sources and more than 60% of food being imported. Waste produced in the manufacturing process is sometimes improperly discarded, stimulating economic growth at the cost of allowing the environment to be polluted. Suffering from large price fluctuations due to supply and demand, Taiwan’s economy is difficult to continue to create employment opportunities and give equal consideration to the environment. These problems are all resulted from the current model of economic development, known as ‘linear economy’.
In a linear economy, profit can only be gained by selling products. This pattern encourages continuous consumption of cheap products in large quantities. Businesses do not factor in external costs, which are all given to society to bear. Implementing circular economic development principles is essentially a cultural change: (1) replacing the current consumer culture of “ownership” with “usage,” (2) creating an industry culture of “manufacturing” with “servicing,” and (3) replacing the current business culture of “independent competition” with “interdependent collaboration.” Circular economic development principles helps change the rationale of businesses and therefore increase their competitiveness. Moreover, it encourages Taiwan’s businesses to innovate in technologies and business models, eventually having the opportunity to lead the world on this new track of circular economy.
Moving from a linear economic system to a circular economic system can enable Taiwan to free itself from its current predicament: lacking control of the front-end supply of raw materials and lacking a back-end consumer market of scale. This is a critical opportunity to decouple the Taiwanese economy with raw material use and even participate in setting the rules of future global economic development.
How can Taiwan implement a circular economic system? This book provides an overview of circular business models, examples in major sectors including construction, agri-food, textile and transportation. It also showcases roadmaps from national to city and regional levels. Lastly, this book proposes four action plans for the government:
1. Diagnose the existing input and output system of various resources.
2. Develop a “renewable resource and technology trading platform.”
3. Research, development, and investment into reclamation, commercialization, and industrialization of waste materials.
4. Accelerate the upgrading of industrial areas and planning of new material and circular industrial parks.