This project aimed to improve the air quality of Pingtung County by providing counseling for the monitoring, inspection, and management of open burning of agricultural waste and joss paper. From January 1st to December 31st, 2022, 351 open burning inspections and 30 unmanned air vehicle patrols were conducted; 34 cases of open burning were detected. A GPS positioning system was combined with a geographic information system (ArcGIS) to establish a database of the locations for open agricultural waste burning in Pingtung County and achieve real-time monitoring of this practice. The database has currently established files on 3000 farmers. Moreover, six mobile, high-coverage monitoring systems equipped with photographic equipment have been deployed to monitor open agricultural waste burning incidents. The cloud system transmits images over the internet in real time for the timely detection of open agricultural waste burning, enabling officials to rapidly respond to inadequate burning events. The system has detected 25 instances of open burning. In addition to monitoring and inspections, counseling was performed regarding options for agricultural waste treatment, such as centralized processing, cleaning, and transportation services for agricultural waste and plastic film recycling services. Through the project, 3012.89 tons of agricultural waste were cleaned and transported, and 210.91 tons of agricultural thin films were recycled. Moreover, the project team has advocated for the autonomous management of agricultural land rented to farmers by the Taiwan Sugar Corporation. Data were collected on 695 hectares of the rented agricultural land; of this land, 304.12 hectares were inspected and no open burning cases were detected, indicating that using rental contracts to prevent renters from engaging in open burning was effective. Subsequently, counseling was provided for five environmental farms, four seminars on the disposal of agricultural waste were held, and 533 hectares of farmland were shredded. However, agricultural waste shredding team members tend to be olderadults; some regions lack such teams or have insufficient personnel. Hence, agricultural sectors were requested to establish more agricultural waste shredding teams during the second operations management meeting. Additionally, two work seminars on the Pingtung County Counseling Programs for Promoting the Proper Disposal of Agricultural Wastes were held to coordinate discussion between government agencies on the proper handling of agricultural waste. Through the counseling provided by the project, the proper handling rate for agricultural waste from long-term crops (wax apples) and short-term crops (rice) reached 90% and 98%, respectively. A total of 90.7% of surveyed Pingtung County residents reported that pollution due to agricultural waste burning had decreased from the previous year—a new high in this survey. Furthermore, only 109 agricultural waste open burning cases were reported in 2022, representing a reduction of 33% from the 162 cases reported in 2021.
The attempts to reduce ghost money burning were also successful. The largest Tudigong Temple in Taiwan—Checheng Fu’an Temple—independently closed its ghost money furnace and assented to the centralized burning of ghost-money. A total of 840.08 tons of ghost money were collected—a new high and a 55% increase from the 542 tons collected in 2021. Of the 840.08 tons collected in 2022, 556.4 tons were collected by this project, and 283.68 tons were collected by the 2022 Pingtung County Agricultural Waste Clean-up and Disposal and Ghost-money Centralized Burning Collection and Transportation Project. Temples in Pingtung County were selected for on-site visits, and counseling on ghost-money burning reduction was provided during these visits. A total of 26 temples complied with the ghost-money burning reduction policy; among these, nine were selected for accreditation as high-quality temples. The Beiji Temple of Pingtung City and Donglong Temple of Chaozhou Township both were ranked first, followed by Jialian Temple of Donggang Township in third place. The project collaborated with a joint promotion team formed by the district office, fire department, police department, and environmental protection agencies to visit and provide counseling on the day before temple festivals. Counseling was provided for 20 temples, and resulted in a substantial reduction in firecrackers, burning ghost money, noise pollution, and air pollution during the festival. The reduction in ghost money burnt this year was 695 tons, a 10% increase compared with the 634 tons of 2021. Finally, project members distributed over 1000 flyers, posters, and other material regarding the prohibition of open ghost money burning, the option of centralized ghost money burning, and ghost money burning reduction activities.
The Taiwanese government has actively implemented policies for reducing coal use and carbon emissions. This project established plans for reusing two types of agricultural waste. On September 30, 2022, a trial run for the Renewal and Reuse Project for the Huge Shredding Plant in Pingtung County was completed. Currently, the agencies registered to use the shredding plant comprise the Seventh River Management Office (approximately 17 tons of coarse aggregate) and Nanzhou Farmers’ Association (approximately 20 tons of fine aggregate). The waste is reused to reduce emitted dust exposed to the Gaoping River basin, resolve problems caused by kitchen waste (as a secondary material), and generate recovered fuel. The demonstration site for the proper handling of agricultural waste established by the 2018 Pingtung County Agricultural Waste Burning Reduction and Circular Economy Project and the related seminars reveal Pingtung County’s achievements in handling agricultural waste and provides an on-site demonstration of the gasifier power generation process. This process increases the effectiveness of waste handling. Operators in Pingtung County were inspired by the demonstration and constructed a gasifier that is expected to start commercial operation in 2023. Additionally, the Pingtung mechanical treatment (MT) factory demonstrated the reuse and handling of agricultural thin films. On November 2nd, 4 tons of agricultural thin films were registered for processing in the Pingtung MT factory to produce SRF, thereby recovering resources from agricultural wastes.