By Lee Ting-fung（李亭芳）, Chong Cai-rong（鍾采蓉）
From trash classification to renewable energy application, environmental protection accounts for a large part of our daily life today. This is a government that is constantly promoted on television. Many civil society organizations are committed to protecting the environment, but their promotion effort is not very obvious. Although many people have worked hard to make designs for environmental protection, their efforts do not seem to get market attention.
Environmental Conservation in Taiwan
Nowadays more and more people cares about the earth’s environment. Deng Pi-xin（鄧丕信）, a technical specialist of Department of Waste Management of Environmental Protection Administration（EPA環保署廢管處）, said there are two major policies that will be executed in 2018. One is restricted use of plastic shopping bags（限用塑膠袋制度）, which was first implemented in 2002, and will be expand to cover a wide range of institutions such as cosmetics shops, and stationery stores. Another is to ban the sale and import of goods that contain microbeads, such as cleaning cream, toothpaste and soap.
We can see many environment-friendly products on television, like shoes without adhesive and clothes made of cow dung in Netherlands. Taiwan has successfully imported a technology to make the smart recycle bin called SIGUREC, which can recycle 8 kinds of recycling items by using the optical identification system（光學辨識系統）to distinguish their barcode, shape, weight and size. Although some Taiwanese rely on elderly garbage collectors and resource recycling cars that make them not quite understand the sort of recycled objects, their awareness of environmental protection is no less than in other countries. Many foreigners have come to Taiwan to learn our experience of environment protection. Different cultural backgrounds make different policies. For example, we have implemented the policy of restricting the use of plastic shopping bags ahead of others. Taiwanese are more active in protecting the environment. They have created many environmentally friendly goods and held events to promote an environmentally friendly way of life.
Renato-lab is a company that has promoted reusing discarded material and inventing breeder material. The company cooperates with different factories and other companies in changing circuit cards into stationary products. In a joint project, they have combined many professions, like electronic, foodstuff and interior design, to share experiences and exchange ideas. Renato-lab and the Department of Culture Affairs, Taipei City Government (DCA台北市文化局) jointly held some forums and exhibitions in Taipei in December this year, displaying many designed goods and embryonic objects that are environmentally friendly, some of which can already be purchased in the market while others are still being developed by non-profit organizations. The forums and exhibitions sought to stimulate people’s interest in and ideas about how to make the environment of Taipei city better in the future.
Reasons for Hard Promotion
Yutian Design（雨田設計公司）, which joined in Renato-lab’s exhibition, developed the idea of reusing recycled stuff from commercial designs, using cardboard boxes to make notebooks, and providing manual workshops to let people know reusing recycled stuff is not that difficult. The designer of Yutian Design, Chen Nai-yun(陳乃韻), said that many small companies like theirs are not very famous and, if they want to be more popular, they have to spend money on advertising, in which case, their priority will be making profit like other commercialized entities and running against their original goal of using only existing materials. The more they’re required to do so, the more production they have to produce, which means mass production. But they can’t afford the expensive equipment and human resource costs. The most important is customer’s consumption and habits – although people become more environmentally friendly, there are still some people who can’t get used to reusing the “abandoned” objects. Besides, reused products are not as pretty as brand new ones.
Apart from own branding & manufacturing, scientific exhibition teacher Hong Jia-jyun（洪嘉駿）leads students to create the “Automatic Classification and Compression Recycle Device” and won the silver award of INPEX® – The Invention & New in 2014. Hong Jia-jyun（洪嘉駿）hopes to use technology to protect environment, but the invention to attract companies to sponsor and produce. Besides, if you want to commercialize your products, you also need industrial design, enough money and lots of time to hand over the technology to the commercial manufacturers.
How To Make Dreams Come True
Environmentally friendly products have three features: they have to be made of environment-friendly material, they can be recycled after being used, and they can be recovered. Many workshops or companies are pursuing environmental protection but find it hard to establish and expand. Because they are not large-scale firms, without perfect plan about mass production and commercialization, it will be difficult for them to apply for government subsidies. In addition to the government-initiated venture loans, civil organizations are also promoting the interaction between business and market.
Diageo（帝亞吉歐）, has set up a dream fund-raising project, using a platform to help people innovate or continue the original implementation of an idea. The grants program of Diageo provides fixed amount of funding each year. People submit applications, which will go through a rigorous selection process to win support. There are 400 to 700 applications each year. If the case content is comprehensive, it can also see a lot of environmental ideas that lead to inventions, like Chi Po-lin（齊柏林）who produced a movie about Taiwan’s water resources, and Sheu You-ren (許又仁) who uses food scraps to feed earthworms, solving the problem of food scraps while creating animal protein. Guo Fu（郭芙）, who could not tolerate wastes on beaches, developed an equipment which can be dissolve styrofoam knapsacks.
Sam Sheu(許鴻鵬), senior corporate relations manager of Diageo, said, Diageo’s environmental protection project not only contains funding plans, but also carries out water resource plans at the same time, working with the Taiwan Association of Sustainable Ecological Engineering Development（社團法人台灣永續生態工法發展協會） to maintain wetlands, and create various means to protect the environment. Whether it is a large business or a small brand, in the early days of business it will face many questions and challenges, including funds, technology and specifications. There are solutions: participate in government agencies, visit non-governmental organizations meeting regularly and communicate with others through platforms, said Sam Sheu.
People Care About Our Environment
Environmental protection and sustainable development are clearly a trend of our time, and also an issue that people care about. From the government’s environmental protection policy to ordinary people’s environmentally friendly designed products and exhibitions, efforts are being made to let people know more about the importance of environmental protection. Products from design to launch also need a series of processes and efforts. There are also many students and teachers on campus who are interested in creative design for environmental protection. Participating in foreign competitions can also spread Taiwan’s environmentally friendly ideas and creativity.
As for developing environmental protection products, there are many well-known brands, some of which are put forth by fledgling companies or even just a studio. Although they are still not popular, they act silently and believe that they can establish their reputation as the time goes by, hoping a small success can become the driving force for social progress.