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Report: 2017 Tainan-ECCT Low Carbon City & Circular Economy Conference 臺歐低碳城市及循環經濟國際論壇

12-04 Tainan

Media report: English / Chinese

The 2017 Tainan-ECCT Circular Economy & Low Carbon City Conference was organised by the ECCT's Low Carbon Initiative (LCI) together with the Tainan City Government. The full-day event, held in Tainan, brought together recognised industry experts and decision-makers to present and discuss circular economy and low carbon solutions. At the conference opening remarks were made by the guests of honour, after which the speakers gave presentations in two sessions, each of which was followed by a panel discussion and Q&A session. The conference was attended by an audience of 300, which included government officials and representatives from industry and academia.

The guests of honour were Tainan Deputy Mayor Chang Chen-yuan, Lai Ying-ying, General Director of the Department of Waste Management under the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) and ECCT CEO Freddie Hoglund.

Speakers included the following executives and officials from Europe and Taiwan: Martin Eberts, Director-General, German Institute Taipei; Guy Wittich, Head of Mission, The Netherlands Trade and Investment office; Lin Chien-san, Director-General, Environmental Protection Bureau, Tainan City Government; Huang Der-ray, Director-General, Shalun Green Energy Science City Office, Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST); Chang Ying-hsi, New Energy Technology Division, Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI); Chang Jian-cheng, Head, Circular Economy Group, Taiwan Sugar; Giuseppe Izzo, Managing Director, STMicroelectronics Taiwan; Danny Yang, General Manager, Automotive Division, Robert Bosch Taiwan; Larry Sun, Manager, Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC); John Demers, General Manager, Atlas Copco Taiwan; John Pien, General Manager, Grundfos Handels AG Taiwan Branch; Alice Kao, Deputy General Manager, Everest Textile.

Panel discussion sessions were moderated by Giuseppe Izzo, Managing Director, STMicroelectronics Taiwan; Lin Chien-San, Director-General, Environmental Protection Bureau, Tainan City Government and Lee Hsien-wei, Deputy Secretary-General, Tainan City Government.

Opening remarks
In his remarks Tainan Deputy Mayor Chang mentioned the UN millennial development goals, one of which is to ensure environmental sustainability. Achieving this goal implies the need for greater joint efforts to reduce carbon emission and the use of resources and to recycle. He noted that Tainan is already taking on tough challenges and making progress towards becoming a low carbon city. He went on to list some of the city government's efforts and achievements, which have been recognised both locally and internationally.

In her speech EPA General Director Lai pointed out that the global consumption of resources is already at unsustainable levels, which means that action is required. Taiwan's recycling rate is around 50% and the government hopes to increase this by 4% annually. In terms of carbon emissions, Taiwan has set an interim target of a 30% reduction by 2030. Tainan is ahead of other Taiwanese cities in terms of environmental efforts. The low carbon city and community was established three years ago in Tainan and several initiatives have been started to limit the use of plastic and other materials.

In his speech ECCT CEO Höglund said that European countries and companies are pioneers of low carbon development, which is now being taken a step further with circular economy concepts. The European Commission adopted an ambitious Circular Economy Package in December 2015. The package consists of an EU Action Plan with measures covering the whole product life cycle: from design, sourcing, production and consumption to waste management and the market for secondary raw materials. European countries and companies are already implementing many circular economy concepts. In January this year the European Commission published guidance on the recovery of energy from waste.

There are already many working examples in Europe of converting animal waste to biogas, which serve as good reference for Taiwan. The European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform is a joint initiative by the European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee. Its website shares strategies, knowledge and best practices of proven circular economy concepts. Among many examples, these include innovative ways to design and produce building materials, treat and reuse waste water and convert plants into paper or raw materials in the composites industry. ECCT LCI member Philipps has implemented a successful product-as-a-service circular business model for lighting. Another member, Covestro, has started producing a material, which uses CO2 as a raw material to make products such as foam matrasses and car seats. Other LCI members Bosch, Atlas Copco, STMicroelectronics and Grundfos shared their low carbon and circular economy concepts later on in the conference. He concluded that the ECCT fully supports Tainan's commitment to developing into a low carbon city and that ECCT member companies stand ready to work together with the local authorities and businesses to realise this goal. Doing so would be good for the economy, the environment and the people of Tainan.

Morning session

Topic: Circular Economy in Germany
Speaker: Martin Eberts, Director-General, German Institute Taipei

Global resources are already strained which means that continuing to employ the existing linear economic model is not feasible. Circular economic concepts need to become central to all economic activities. Given the rate of pollution of the oceans (particularly plastic) and deforestation, the protection of oceans and forests should be seen as part of circular economy. This is not just economic and environmental but also an ethical issue.

There is a role for both the public and private sector in the shift towards a circular economy. Multiple efforts are underway. He highlighted the example of Swiss psychiatrist and balloonist Bertrand Piccard, who was a guest speaker at the "Smart Growth Towards a Circular Economy Forum" on 11 September, at which the ECCT was a supporting organiser (the forum was one of the series of events that were part of the World Congress on Information Technology, WCIT, hosted this year in Taipei). At the event Piccard introduced "Solar Impulse", the long-range experimental solar-powered aircraft, in which he, together with Swiss engineer and businessman André Borschberg, succeeded in circumnavigating the earth using just solar power for the first time. This showed how far technology has evolved and also serves as an inspiration. The world needs governments to set ambitious goals and inspirational leaders like Picard to think outside the box and take on what were previously regarded as impossible tasks.

Germany and Taiwan are ideal partners given their shared democratic systems and high tech features as well as the fact that they both lack natural resources. Both countries have used ingenuity and entrepreneurial drive to succeed in developing new ideas, science and technologies.

To make progress we first have to stop things from getting worse, such as stopping the dumping of plastics and chemicals. We also need to change our attitude to waste. We should think of waste as a commodity. In this regard we need to think globally and act locally and raise awareness among the general public. It is also important to pursue an inclusive strategy that benefits everyone. In many ways, circular economy concepts are already viable and superior. We also need to review science regularly to take into account new research and knowledge.

Germany is already approaching a circular economy. There is a high degree of environmental awareness (an environmentally-conscious population), recycling rates are already 60-65% on average and figures are even higher for steel and glass (around 90%) and paper (70%). In 2014 there were already 250,000 jobs in the "circular economy" sector (in the narrow sense, not including jobs in renewable energy) and the sector has generated €50 billion in revenues. The population is generally supportive of moves to protect the environment even if it requires a degree of sacrifice. According to Eberts if circular concepts are employed there is a potential to boost economic growth by 0.3 percentage points per year and cut household costs (housing, food and mobility) by up to 25% by 2030.

There is a solid legal framework in place in Germany to implement circular economy concepts. The federal Circular Economy Act was adopted in 2012 and last amended in 2017 at the federal levels (the recent amendment covers recycling of electrical products). State laws, statutory orders and administrative provisions have been implemented to further clarify and specify provisions. In terms of responsibility, businesses are responsible for own waste while municipalities are responsible for dealing with household waste.

Federal provisions to promote the circular economy include 1) The RETech Conference in 2016 on circular economy in megacities, which provided capacity building and know-how transfer and how to create an environmental protection infrastructure and 2) Pilot projects such as the TetraPhos® technology at Hamburger VERA (which recovers phosphor from sludge and decreases Germany's dependence on phosphor imports). This is a good example of an initiative of a private company that has created something useful from what was previously considered useless waste.

On the state level, Rheinland, (taken as an example even though it is not the biggest German state), hosted the 8th International Circular Economy Week in 2017, which drew 160 participants from 20 countries to showcase "best-practice" projects. The approach taken was very practical, showing real workable examples. The state also provides support for more than 70 projects covering sustainable communal planning, energy efficiency and renewables, sustainable building, sustainable paper industry, agricultural and terminal use of sludge and research. Germany has very ambitious plans to make buildings energy neutral by 2050.

Industry initiatives include Vaude's Green Shape Label, which has been successful in producing specialised clothing using a circular model which covers reparability, timeless design and reuse, thereby closing gaps in the material cycle.

BASF joined Ellen MacArthur Foundation's Circular Economy 100 and New Plastics Economy. The company's biggest plant is nearly completely circular –more than 90% of materials are reused.
This shows that not only new companies but also large, established companies can become circular.

The speaker concluded that there are three things the new German government will have to do: balance the public and private roles in waste management, introduce new incentives (such as tax incentives) and widen the circular economy to beyond waste management throughout the economy.

Topic: The Dutch experience: Circular economy and industrial reformation
Speaker: Guy Wittich, Head of Mission, The Netherlands Trade and Investment office

The speaker gave an overview of promotion of the circular economy in The Netherlands and gave several examples.

The Dutch government has set a target to achieve a circular economy by 2050 and an interim target of a 50% reduction in the use of raw materials by 2030. Last year the Dutch government prioritized focus on the areas of biomass and food, plastics, the manufacturing industry, the construction and consumer goods sectors which it will do through a combination of fostering legislation and regulations, intelligent market incentives, financing, knowledge and innovation and international cooperation.

On 25 January this year the Dutch government signed the National Raw Materials Agreement with companies, trade organisations and NGOs. Under the agreement signatories agreed on steps to reduce the use of raw materials. More recently, the government announced an agreement on the circular economy and inter-departmental cooperation.

The circular economy is not just about recycling. It requires a new definition of waste, re-designing and remanufacturing and new business models. There are many potential benefits of moving to a circular economy in terms of energy and water savings, economic generation and job creation.

The speaker went on to cite some examples of circular business models. Schiphol airport authorities now outsource lighting to Philips. Under the contract, rather than buying lights and fittings, the airport company just pays a set fee for lighting. This new circular economy model has prompted Philipps to design better lighting solutions that last longer and minimize waste.

He went on to introduce the concept of urban mining to recover and reuse materials and heat and circular building projects. Buildings as Material Banks (BAMB) is a an EU-funded project that is creating ways to increase the value of building materials. Dynamically and flexibly-designed buildings can be incorporated into a circular economy, where materials in buildings sustain their value. That will lead to waste reduction and the use of fewer virgin resources.

For example, a town hall in Brummen in The Netherlands has been designed to last for 20 years and so that all materials can be disassembled and reused afterwards. The buildings used no welding and nuts and bolts can be reused. This reduced costs considerably. Schiphol airport aims to produce zero waste by 2030. It has already introduced a circular conveyor belt system, waste water system and started using flax seed oil for paint and bio-based furniture.

Boyan Slat a Dutch inventor, entrepreneur and aerospace engineering is converting plastic waste from the oceans into yarns for garments. Humic acid is currently discharged as a waste product during the drinking-water blanching process, but Dutch water firm Vitens has developed a way to recover it in its pure fertilising form from waste water.

On the challenges facing Taiwan, Wittich said that there is still a need to raise awareness of circular economy, create a legal framework and introduce more incentives to adopt circular methods. Achieving progress will require more cooperation within and between central government agencies, local government, industry and academia.

Topic: Tainan's NewVision for Circular Economy
Speaker: Lin Chien-San, Director-General, Environmental Protection Bureau, Tainan City Government

Tainan has shown steadily-increasing rates of recycling and kitchen waste recovery since 2010 and a decline in the amount of refuse clearance at the same time. This has been helped by policies of reducing plastic and a ban on the use of expanded polystyrene (EPS) since 2013. In addition, a number of measures have been introduced, such as mandatory recycling, and others to encourage citizens to reduce waste such as using green tableware and reusable bags.

The city has improved the efficiency of its thermal incineration power plants. It is also making use of unused public landfill land to set up solar photovoltaic systems as well as setting up both ground and rooftop-mounted solar arrays in many parts of the city and on unused land. So far solar facilities have been built on nine landfills. In addition, given the accumulation of bottom ash (the non-combustible residue of combustion from incinerators), which is filling up landfills, the city has started recycling bottom ash.

It is an established principle in Tainan that all public engineering projects will require 30% of construction materials to be made from recycled materials. For example, the city is reusing aggregate material in the paving of parking lots and road. It is also using aggregate material to make bricks.

In future, the city aims to 1) increase the electricity generating efficiency; 2) establish photoelectric facilities; 3) completely recycle bottom ash and 4) improve composting efficiency, including creating biomass energy from kitchen waste and straw.

Panel discussion
On a question as to how to speed up the drive towards the circular economy, panellists said that the private sector and NGOs do not need to wait for the government. You just need a few strong companies and motivated citizens to make progress. However, the government could help by creating a robust legal framework and allowing demonstration sites and pilot projects for potential ideas. Something like a circular economy act modelled on European examples would help Taiwan to make progress.

On the challenges of getting to the next phase of development, one significant challenge is that supply chains are now global, which means it will take international cooperation to drive the circular economy.

Afternoon session

Topic: Introduction to Shalun Green Energy Science City
Speaker: Huang Der-ray, Director-General, Shalun Green Energy Science City Office, Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST)

The speaker introduced the Shalun Green Energy Science City project, which was announced in 2016 and includes a joint research center for green energy technologies, a green energy technology demonstration site, a multifunction convention and exhibition centre, the southern campus of Academia Sinica and the peripheral living and residential areas near the Tainan high speed rail station. The ultimate objective of the project is to build a smart, low carbon city. The project aims to assist industries to test innovative technologies and product performance and thereby boost industry competitiveness and expand green energy technology-related products on a global scale. The research institutes taking part are the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), National Applied Research Laboratories (NARL), and Institute of Nuclear Energy Research (INER).

According to Huang a site for testing autonomous driving and electric cars will be completed in 2018. There are also plans to develop and test hydrogen buses with a view to developing a hydrogen vehicle supply chain in Taiwan. Huang gave an example of a company specializing in using silicon sludge as material to make useful products and, at the same time, produce hydrogen as by-product at low cost, demonstrating an excellent example of circular business model. Hydrogen storage tank and pressure products are also produced in Taiwan, which shows that there is potential for developing a hydrogen vehicle supply chain.

The director-general also noted that there are many pig and chicken farms in the area, which makes it an ideal location for a biogas power plant.

Topic: Generating biogas from kitchen waste
Speaker: Chang Ying-hsi, New Energy Technology Division, Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI)

There is a lot of potential in Taiwan for developing biogas given the steady supply of feedstock from animal manure, kitchen waste, industrial waste and landfills. The speaker explained the process of converting food waste to biogas. ITRI been studying the technology for three years and has a one-tonne pilot system operating. It is collaborating with a farm on a 10-tonne system and working with Tainan authorities to collect and process fruit and vegetable waste. The dual advantage of biogas systems of this nature is that they make constructive use of waste and also make a profit from selling the energy produced. The idea has the support of the EPA and state-run Taipower and the central government, which plans to offer feed-in-tariffs for biogas. The MOEA is also offering subsidies for biogas generation while the EPA is encouraging private sector participation.

Topic: Circular economy implementation at Taiwan Sugar
Speaker: Chang Jian-cheng, Head, Circular Economy Group, Taiwan Sugar

The speaker shared his company's circular economy model and experience. Waste material from extracting sugar from sugar cane can be used as a biofuel while the ash from burning can be used for fertilizer. Sugar cane juice residue can also be used as a fertilizer. Since 70% of sugar cane is water, the water extracted during processing can also be reused. Taiwan Sugar's ultimate goal is zero waste and zero pollution.

Topic: The smart world ahead
Speaker: Giuseppe Izzo, Managing Director, STMicroelectronics Taiwan

The speaker introduced the eight R's that underlie the circular economy: re-evaluate, re-contextualise, restructure, refocus, re-localise, reduce, reuse and recycle. For circularity to happen a lot of things have to be done. Industry needs to evolve and produce more efficiently. We need to think of how to use power and resources more efficiency. Products also need to be designed for circularity.

A lot of smart technology is already in use in Taiwan and there is potential for a lot more which could reduce the use of energy, such as temperature control, smart parking, and smart garbage (equipped with sensors that send message when full. A smart grid is possible but is not without smart metering.

Izzo pointed out that the smart revolution is only happening today because of sensors, processing units, AI, communication and connectivity.

Topic: Smart city transportation
Speaker: Danny Yang, General Manager, Automotive Division, Robert Bosch Taiwan

The speaker outlined megatrends that are necessitating the circular economy, especially the depletion of resources. He introduced some of Bosch's services that are helping to reduce resources and energy use, such as an automated valet parking system. The system employs sensors in cars to scan and collect data on where parking spaces are available, which are fed into the cloud, processed and communicated to other users so that they don't need to spend time looking for a parking space.

The company is also working with automotive companies to develop an App that provides information about electric vehicle charging stations and also integrates payment solutions.

Another useful project the company is working is the development of a comprehensive transportation solution that integrates bike, car and public transport options to allow users to choose the most efficient method for each journey while also providing information on additional location-based services available along the way.

Topic: TSMC's waste recycling status and prospects
Speaker: Larry Sun, Manager, Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC)

As TSMC's business has expanded, so has the company's responsibility. In this regard, the company recognizes the need to shoulder responsibility for dealing with waste. TSMC's main waste products are sulfuric acid, ammonium sulfate, solvent, calcium fluoride, phosphoric acid and copper sulphate. The company has already gone some way towards treating waste. Currently it treats and recycles 80% and reuses 15% of its waste.

Sun classified various stages towards a circular economy. Circular 1.0 involves sending waste to an external party for recycling. Circular 2.0 involves recycling or reusing internally while Circular 3.0 goes further to recycle and reuse waste that is difficult to treat (so-called grey products).

The company has a sophisticated system to separate and classify waste water, waste chemicals and waste drainage. There are 36 classification categories of waste. 95% of these can now be recycled into industrial grade products. While the waste water recycling system is expensive, at the same time, there are cost savings from not having to outsource recycling while there are additional savings from being able to reuse materials recovered in the recycling process.

Topic: Committed to sustainable productivity
Speaker: John Demers, General Manager, Atlas Copco Taiwan

There is not sufficient focus on energy reduction. We have to learn to use less by avoiding using energy. According to Demers, energy intensity in Taiwan, although on a positive declining trend, is higher than the global average, indicating that there is room to decrease the amount of energy (measured in the quantity of oil equivalent) to produce the same level of output in terms of GDP.

According to a conservative estimates cited by Demers, industrial installations waste 15-20% of energy. Globally, 10% of energy in industry is used to compress air and anywhere between 5% and 40% of energy consumption in any given plant is used to compress air. 70% of the life cycle cost of a compressor is the energy deployed and 20% of compressed air generated is to cover leaks (which is wasted energy). In addition, energy is wasted if compressors are not optimized to power down when not in use or if they are poorly serviced. A leak as small as 5mm can cost NT$150,000 per year.

Variable speed drives designed by the company can achieve 35-50% in energy savings. If all compressors in a facility system are coordinated, they can save even more energy. Another feature of the company's products is to use hot water (a by-product from running compressors) as a resource. According to Demers, using the hot water generated from three small compressors could save a company between NT$400,000 and NT$700,000.

Topic: Water saving pumps
Speaker: John Pien, General Manager, Grundfos Handels AG Taiwan Branch
The speaker introduced his company's water pumps, which are designed to reduce energy usage and water. He noted that water pumps use a lot of energy because water is heavy. 10% of all energy used globally is for water pumps. Considering that an estimated 90% of water pumps now in use are not energy saving, it is conceivable that by replacing outdated pumps with energy-efficient ones, energy used by pumps could be cut by up to 40%, translating into a cut of 4% in energy usage globally.

According to Pien the company's pumps use 40% less energy than those of its competitors. In 2008 Grundfos pledged to reduce its total carbon footprint every year. The speaker proceeded to provide results of the company's energy saving analysis and monitoring initiative, which showed how the company is meeting its pledge to cut energy usage every year despite increasing revenue.

Topic: Introduction to Everest Textile
Speaker: Alice Kao, Deputy General Manager, Everest Textile
The company supplies functional fabric textiles to around 300 brand name customers. This includes high tech fabrics, such as temperature control fabrics using biodegradable materials. The company is employing several circular economy concepts such as using recycled waste to produce nylon, transforming sludge from the production process into fuel or bricks and designing eco-friendly factories that do not need air-conditioning or heating, which has reduced energy usage by up to 92%.