Taking out the trash in Taipei and New Taipei City
I don't know how relevant this information is for the rest of Taiwan but in this article, I'll share with you how to take out the trash when living in Taipei or New Taipei City. I actually may be doing certain things wrong, and if so, please let me know, and I will make the necessary edits.
For the longest time, I stayed in an apartment complex that had their own garbage pickup system so I never used the actual public system until recently. It can appear rather daunting, but once I figured out the system, it was OK.
I started by using Google to see if there was some kind of guide out there, and I did find this article. It was useful enough but there were certain things missing that would have made my life easier, and I'm going to share those tips with you.
First you want to figure out the pickup schedule for your area. The trucks follow a fairly strict schedule.
Thanks Jerome for the tip: just get this app!
Otherwise, if you live in Taipei, this is link you can use to find out which pickup time/location may be the most convenient for you. The addresses are listed in Pinyin. Check with Google Maps and make a list of the surrounding streets. Google Maps lists street names in Chinese characters, but if you zoom in close enough, there should be the Pinyin equivalent. I haven't checked for every street, but keep in mind that in Taiwan, Pinyin is not commonly used and therefore not standardized like it is in China. That is why you can see different spellings across Taiwan. For instance, I've seen 西門 romanized as Ximen and Shimen. As far as I can tell, Google Maps should have the standardized Pinyin used in China, which is the one I recommend learning anyway. In the event that you cannot find the Pinyin equivalent for the street name, make a screen cap of the map, and upload it into the Google Translate app and from there, you will be able to highlight the Chinese characters. Once you confirm the selection, the Pinyin equivalent will be displayed.
Once you have all that, just go on the site, and look for the closest pickup locations around your area.
For New Taipei City, unfortunately, at least at this moment, the site is not English speaker friendly. If you go on the official site for this, you'll notice that they have links to search for pickup schedules, but you can't even click on them. You'll have to copy and paste them. When you do that, the link doesn't even work. If they eventually fix this, please let me know, and I will update.
For New Taipei City, you'll need to use the Chinese site, and I suggest a browser that has an automatic translation feature such as Google Chrome (I swear I don't work for Google). You'll need to know which district you're in and which specific administrative region as well. If you don't know this info, ask your landlord or a Chinese speaking friend. Once you've figured all this out, the rest shouldn't be too complicated; just follow the instructions.
What you then need are official garbage bags. This is where I had a hard time, no one told me that you actually had to talk to the store clerk to buy these. I searched everywhere for them, until I realized you had to ask for them. They're available at all convenience stores, PX Mart, and perhaps other places that I have not tried yet. Feel free to give me a list.
Uh oh! Now you have to speak to the clerk and they might not speak English at all! This is where I can help.
Basically, you're going to ask for the special garbage bag, and then they're going to ask you which size.
So you can start by asking them if they have any:
請問有垃圾專用袋嗎？ Qǐngwèn yǒu lèsè zhuānyòng dài ma? -
"Excuse me, do you have the special garbage bags?" Obviously, there are many ways you can express yourself. I personally like to add "Qǐngwèn" as it makes it more polite. "Qǐngwèn" is translated as "excuse me" in Google Translate, but it's more nuanced. It's used before asking a question. I'll make a blog post about useful words at some point.
Immediately after asking this question, I suggest indicating the size. The sizes are in liters. You can choose between 3, 5, 14, 25, 33, 75, 120L. Realistically, for most people 5 or 14L should do the trick. Here are the first three:
三公升 Sān gōngshēng - 3 liters
五公升 Wǔ gōngshēng - 5 liters
十四公升 Shísì gōngshēng - 14 liters
You can also say:
五公升或是十四公升 Wǔ gōngshēng huò shì shísì gōngshēng - 5 or 14 liters.
Last but not least, you can also specify how many packs you want:
一包 Yī bāo - One pack
兩包 Liǎng bāo - Two packs
三包 Sān bāo - Three packs
You did it! You have your special bags and are ready to throw your trash out. This is where I may be doing things wrong but so far no one has said anything and I have seen other people do similar things. Furthermore, I live in New Taipei City, maybe it's a little different in Taipei.
First of all, as mentioned on the first link that I provided, they will accept any official garbage bag whether it's from Taipei City or New Taipei City. So if you have the pink coloured bag from New Taipei City, don't worry about using it in Taipei, which is another colour. Taiwan is very progressive in that way ;-).
The trucks generally follow a strict schedule and if you're even 1 second late, they won't wait for you. I saw a guy run towards a truck, and he was not even 15 feet away! The truck just left; the garbage people definitely saw him, but no dice! Harsh!
If it's your very first time, I suggest arriving 10 minutes early because I found out that the one that was supposed to come at 20:05 actually came at 19:57. The website wasn't properly updated as the truck regularly comes at 19:57 and is gone by 19:58. Once you've confirmed the regular pick-up time, you can arrive a minute before. People start lining up 15 minutes before, but these days, I just show up a minute before.
You will hear the truck's music when it's arriving. It plays either Beethoven's Für Elise (purposely composed for this) or A Maiden's Prayer by Polish composer Tekla Bądarzewska-Baranowska. I bet you didn't know that last one!
I live alone and barely generate food waste, so I don't compost. I also order a lot from Uber Eats and when I'm done, I put everything in the bag that the food came in. I've seen others do the same. There are two trucks that come. There is the actual garbage truck where you can dispose of food waste and throw away your special garbage bag. There is also the recycling and misc. trash truck. This truck will take any bag. I put all my recyclable waste in a big transparent bag. This is also the truck where I throw my Uber Eats food. I've seen others do the same, and the garbage people never stopped me. If I'm doing it wrong, please let me know!
That's it! If you want to buy my music, go here:
If you want customized Mandarin lessons with, in my opinion, one of the vey best teachers in Taiwan, I highly recommend Jenny Lin's JL Mandarin School. 95% of my knowledge of Mandarin comes from her, and this article would not exist without her.