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TÜV Certifies Tzu Chi Recycled Goods as 'Green' Gold

The thousands of Tzu Chi's recycling volunteers who recycle waste materials like to say that they are turning garbage into gold. Now this 'gold' has been certified as 'green' by one of the world's most qualified judges.

The Da Ai Eco-Green Blankets is made by 100% recycled PET materials. (Photo by Wang Li-lin)

Founded in 1872 and based in Cologne, Germany, TÜV Rheinland Group is a global provider of technical, safety and certification services. It employs more than 12,000 people in over 60 countries, with revenue exceeding one billion euros a year.

Da Ai Technology, a social enterprise inspired by Tzu Chi's environmental philosophy and ran by five Tzu Chi entrepreneur volunteers, recently sent in its Da Ai (Great Love) Eco-Green Blanket made from recycled PET bottles collected by some 67,000 volunteers in Tzu Chi's recycling stations across Taiwan for certification.

The company researched and developed the technology of turning polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles into synthetic fibre used to make blankets and clothing which Tzu Chi Foundation distributes in its relief operations around the world.

The manufacturing process does not include new dyeing, which substantially reduces the amount of new chemicals introduced to the environment and reduces the amount of water used in the production. In addition, the green colour of the blankets comes from the true colour of the recycled bottles. The blankets and clothes are stain-resistant and have excellent insulation. They are easy to dry and not easily dirtied, making them especially suitable for use by people in emergency situations.

TÜV Rheinland certified the Da Ai Eco-Green Blanket as one of the many qualified products made by 100% recycled materials, proving that the green blankets are fully in compliance with international environmental requirements and that the company's efforts in using recycled materials meet the international demand to reduce carbon emissions. It also tested the product to be non-toxic to humans and safe to use.

Jason Wu, general manager for TÜV Rheinland Systems of Greater China Sales and New Business Development, said, "Normally, the recycled PET impurity rate at recycling plants is around 15%-20%, while Tzu Chi's recycling volunteers help to reduce this to less than 10% by using good PET-bottle separation and classification processing. Such superior processing not only facilitates better quality but also leads to consumption of less energy." Together with the technical capacity of the supply-chain vendors, the end result is green blankets of much greater added-value.

Da Ai Technology advised that it is best to hand-wash the blankets instead of using washing machines to save energy and water, and that carbon emissions can be reduced by up to 90% if the blanket is air-dried instead of using dryer.

The use of carbon-footprint tools helps the better understanding of greenhouse gas emissions produced by different activities and measurement of the impact of these activities on climate change.

Oil, water and electricity are all sources of greenhouse gases. The more energy and other resources we use, the greater impact they will have on global warming. TÜV Rheinland has verified that Da Ai Technology's green blankets have fully implemented carbon-footprint reduction technology, from the recovery phase of PET particles to the processing of the PET yarn into the finished blankets.

Regarding feasible industrial carbon reduction practice, Mr Wu explained that "companies can use recycled materials to meet the requirements set down by international environmental standards". "They can also take advantage of carbon-footprint tools to measure carbon emissions of their green products at different stages of their production cycle – from raw materials and manufacturing to consumer end-products. Rather than new raw materials, using recycled materials can reduce carbon emissions dramatically and decrease consumption of the Earth's resources. Such product is perfectly placed for the market's eco-friendly, very low–carbon niche."

The TÜV Rheinland Group has had long, professional experience in recycling and carbon management. The group has been in the field for over 20 years and has assisted manufacturers to verify a wide range of recycled materials such as waste coffee powder and Polyethylene / Polypropylene (PE/PP). It has provided carbon-footprint verifications for textiles, electronics, and food products and helped manufacturers improve the 'green-efficiency' of their products.

The reason Da Ai Technology selected TÜV Rheinland to verify its recycled materials and carbon footprint was to implement a strict international third-party audit over its company and procedures. Apart from meeting international environmental requirements for its products, the company also aims to incorporate international-standard documentation and procedures in order to promote its repurposing concepts on the international market and play its part in bringing forward the era of recycling.

The TÜV certification is an uplifting encouragement to Tzu Chi's recycling volunteers in Taiwan in their endeavour to keep the planet clean and conserve resources. And with Da Ai Technology's proceeds being channelled to Tzu Chi's charitable work, the effort is, as what a blog commented of Tzu Chi Singapore's initiative in channeling recycling profits to its bursary programme, truly "closing the recycling loop".

Uwe Halstenbach (3rd from left), managing director of TÜV Rheinland Taiwan Ltd. and Huang Hua-de (4th from left), president of Da Ai Technology Pte. Ltd., at the certification ceremony.



Haiti was devastated by an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale on 12 Jan 2010. The grey eco-blanket was one of Tzu Chi's relief items to the affected citizens. (Photo by Lin Yen-huang)

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