Popsicles made from food waste, furniture repair, tool sharing, and computer recycling. The initiatives and strategies that build a circular economy vary greatly. Yet nobody seems to have a list of these projects. Did you know that Taiwan has well over 150 circular economy initiatives? We didn’t either until we helped organize a circular mapping event for the Circular Economy Club.

How do you easily share a tool to your neighbor, or purchase a responsibly made product? Last month, Green Drinks Taipei as part of the Circular Economy Club’s Mapping Week brought together a group of CE innovators from across Taiwan to put these initiatives literally on the map. What’s Green Drinks you ask? It’s an international environmental meetup group. myself and two colleagues (Martin Su and Rouyu Wu) have hosted monthly meetups in Taipei for nearly two and a half years.

The Circular Economy Club (CEC) is a non-profit network of over 2,600 CE professionals and organizations across 60 countries. In their own words “One of the challenges in implementing the circular economy framework is understanding what circularity means in practice, what is already working and what is not. The Mapping Week helps solve this challenge by gathering as many circular initiatives as possible in an open online directory.” With Taiwan focusing on the CE as a development area, we wanted to see just how many initiatives we could find.

Held in Sanshi, perhaps the only circular café in Taipei, Green Drinks invited expert researchers and practitioners from a variety of sectors. Academia, government, startups, and large companies all participated in listing out as many circular projects as they could.

The event identified 148 different initiatives. While not exhaustive of every possible CE project in Taiwan, the exercise helped identify some of the major players involved in the trend, which is listed as one of the key areas of focus for Taiwan under Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) 5+2 Industrial Innovation Plan. There are likely three times more initiatives in Taipei that remain undiscovered, and probably 10 times more across the whole of the country.


Credit: ChingPiao

ChingPiao's reusable cup rental service is so simple even dogs can't believe it isn't more widely used.

To give a flavor of what's happening, I wanted to share a handful of standout projects. None of these are sponsored! They are just companies or organizations doing good work with quality products and initiatives:

ChingPiao (青瓢)

Method: Product-as-a-service

Description: Cup rental system for conferences, festivals, and special events. Made from durable hygienic plastic ChingPiao’s cup system lets participants or concert goers skip single-use items and instead “rent” a reusable cup. Conference organizers deal with less waste and save money.

Simple Eco Life (小事生活)

Method: Design-away-waste

Description: Simple Eco Life creates beeswax wraps to replace plastic film or wrappers. These easy to clean durable reusable wrappers keep food fresh without resorting to plastic.

Dandelion Recycled Tissue Paper (蒲公英衛生紙)

Method: Waste-as-resource

Description: When I first heard about Dandelion Tissues I didn’t believe they existed. Tissues made from recycled paper, without bleach, and made with renewable energy. But they do does exist! And, you can even buy some online.

Ice Spring 春一枝商行

Method: Waste-as-resource

Description: Ice Spring popsicles taste fresh and naturally sweet. They also happen to reduce food waste. This company buys over-ripe fruits from farmers, who usually throw them out, and turns them into popsicles. A simple solution, for the serious problem of food waste.

Taiwan Circular Economy Network (循環台灣基金會)

Method: Design/advocacy

Description: The Taiwan Circular Economy Network, a non-profit, advocates for better CE policies and helps companies, government agencies, and cities to create more circular projects. Founded by Charles Huang they help bring international experts to Taiwan and help put new ideas into practice.

Read Next: Tainan's Student 'Resource Wizards' Tap into the Circular Economy

Editor: David Green