The Petrochemical Situation in Taiwan

A snapshot of Taiwan’s plastics industry


  • In 2016, Taiwan’s petrochemical industry accounted for 30% of the country’s manufacturing sector.


  • Taiwan’s production capacity for ethylene exceeds 4 million metric tonnes per year. Polyethylene is the most widely produced plastic in the world, and is commonly used to make plastic packaging. 





In addition to contributing to the plastic waste crisis through single-use plastic production, the Taiwanese petrochemical industry has had a long and dizzying history of causing environmental damage and potential health problems for communities living close to production facilities across the globe.


Despite being a key economic player and employer, Taiwan’s petrochemical sector has been consistently criticised for issues around hazardous waste, high energy consumption, and high emissions. The introduction of stricter regulations, coupled with continued resistance and protests against petrochemical projects, has left the Taiwanese petrochemical sector in a difficult position.


Facing strict regulations at home, the petrochemical sector does not seem to be slowing down its investments in virgin plastic production and is looking to build new facilities abroad, where the rules are less stringent. This “waterbed effect” provides a clear example of the global nature of the plastic pollution crisis: whatever emissions or plastic waste reductions that are achieved in one region, they will pop up somewhere else unless global targets are agreed.