In 2018, a “World War Waste” took place globally after China prohibited importing waste paper and plastics, so million tons of wastes have been transported to Taiwan.
To discover the impact and the government’s responsibility, Apple Daily Taiwan published this exclusive feature story and created a “Global Waste Flow Map” after gathering big data, visiting numerous ports and recycle factories around the country.
Six journalists of Apple Daily Taiwan’s investigative team have spent a month visiting everywhere around the whole country. For example, we witnessed massive import of foreign wastes in Keelung port, and realized how the local recycle companies were influenced. Also, we talked with the most innocent and vulnerable victims of the “World War Waste”: the poor scavengers in Taiwan who did nothing wrong but suffered most.
In total, we interviewed over 20 related people and scholars, and our feature news webpage integrates articles with shocking pictures and drone clips to explain the impacts of foreign waste.
This feature reveals Taiwanese government’s passiveness toward the problem, and forces the Environmental Protection Administration to limit the waste import by accelerating the revise of regulation. In result, it has become a paragon of modern media playing the role of “the fourth estate.”
What makes this project innovative?
We have gathered the international big data from 2017 to 2018 to prove that the foreign waste import was growing immensely. Taiwan, once a beautiful island country, has become “a dumpsite of developed countries” such as U.S and Japan. The team also worked closely with digital visual team to produce a “Global Waste Flow Map.” This map is an example of Data Visualization, which shows the globe with thousands of small dots flowing from numerous countries to Taiwan. Each dot represents the quantity of "foreign plastic and paper waste." As time goes by, the number of dots increases dramatically, which means the pouring of foreign waste imported to Taiwan. This feature is among a few of reports that focus on global waste flow, and is a model of multimedia website. We show various clear infographics, such as “Growth of Foreign Waste” or “Main Importers of Foreign Waste” in recent years. As a result, readers are able to grasp crucial information by checking these infographics.
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
The feature report is very successful after the publication and makes the public criticize the government’s lack of regulation on foreign waste. Some NGOs have asked the government to limit the total import amount of foreign waste. Furthermore, dozens of Taiwanese media have also covered the foreign waste issue based on our investigation. This forced the Environmental Protection Administration to accelerate the regulation on foreign waste by revising their policy.
Source and methodology
Our methodology combines “data” with “field survey,” which are both very crucial in investigative journalism. In terms of data, we've collected big data from International Trade Center and Taiwan's Customs Administration, and compiled them to make it easier to understand. For example, we've calculated all import waste numbers of various countries, and designed a lot of infographics with clear topics. As a result, the readers can easily understand our topics and news information by browsing these infographics. The Data Visualization of our website is really successful.
Po Chun Ho, journalist. Liang Ju Hou, journalist. Yi Jing Wu, journalist. Wei Chou Chen, journalist. Ting Jen Chen, journalist. Huan Cheng Lin, journalist. Charles Wang, visual designer. Kristi Hu, visual designer. King Hsueh, visual designer. Tiffany Keng, engineer.