New rules have come into force in New Taipei, requiring hazardous items to be disposed of in clear, individual containers, to prevent accidents during waste collection. The rules are a result of recent fires in garbage trucks, and numerous injuries suffered by waste collectors. The hazardous items that you need to watch out for include plastic bags, glass, batteries, and gas canisters. A grace period in which New Taipei residents can learn the new rules will end in April.

Refuse collectors are at work when flames leap from their refuse truck. A lithium battery had caught fire, and someone had thrown a gas canister into the truck. The conflagration left two refuse collectors with burns. In October, New Taipei took steps to prevent such incidents from recurring, announcing that seven types of recyclables must be collected separately. Hazardous items must not be thrown in with ordinary garbage.

Kuo Shu-ping
New Taipei Environmental Protection Administration
In recent years, we’ve noticed many people putting hazardous items together with paper, plastic bottles and cans, in bags or boxes, and handing them straight to our garbage collectors. As we collect such items, there have been numerous incidents where, for example, our employees have cut their hands while sorting the items. We’ve even had explosions of batteries or gas bottles, causing damage to our vehicles and conflagrations.

These are the items to watch out for: clean plastic bags, Styrofoam boxes, glass containers, light sources, dry cells, mobile power banks, lead-acid batteries, and flammable items like lighters, gas canisters or car cigarette lighters. Not only must these items be recycled separately, but they must be appropriately packed in bags or boxes if in large numbers.

Kuo Shu-ping
New Taipei Environmental Protection Administration
The rules came into effect last October. Of course, there is a grace period, which is six months long. But from April onward, if someone fails to recycle those seven types of items separately, and hand them to our refuse collectors, they can be fined a maximum of NT$6,000 according to the Waste Disposal Act.

Next time you need to get rid of these kinds of items, make sure to pack them in a transparent bag, an open eco-friendly bag, or a cardboard box. That allows waste collectors to identify the items in a timely manner, and will prevent your items from causing an accident.

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