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After visiting Taiwan a fair amount of times, this is something that has struck me as quite odd. I've never seen a country quite like Taiwan where there is a very obvious lack of public trashcans. It seems no matter the city, not just the capital, all have a seeming absence of these trashcans, yet the streets still remain relatively clean and litter free.

At first I chalked it up to being just an uncanny feeling and not actually real. But as my trip progressed I found myself having to duck inside nearby convenience stores to throw trash away or stash it in a bag to throw away upon returning to where I was staying. It has always seemed that the best places to find a fair amount of public trashcans were either the public parks, or night market. Wandering along shopping streets yielded the same odd feeling of having nowhere to put trash.

There's got to be an explanation for why this seems to be -- it always feels off when there's a lack of public trashcans, yet the streets mostly are litter free. Compare to a city like San Francisco, where the streets have a trash can that can be found on nearly any block, but at the same time still sees constant littering (of which some is from homeless, but not all).

As such, besides public parks and convenience stores, where else are the most convenient options to find public trash cans?

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    Related, not an answer though: Do have a look at Taiwan's approach to waste management. I had the impression that (and the general culture) lead to what you saw there. – B.Liu Jun 10 at 6:19
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    From your post I come to the conclusion, more trash cans, more trash on the streets. (I have seen plenty of overfilled trash cans, absence of trash cans does encourage people to take their trash with them, to a point.) – Willeke Jun 10 at 9:33
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about public policy and the provision of public services, not about travel. – David Richerby Jun 10 at 14:59
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    +1 for "uncanny feeling" – Manuki Jun 10 at 19:35
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    You won't find many public trash cans / rubbish bins in Japan, either, and Korea only recently started putting more out. These are crowded countries without much landfill space; it's expensive to dispose of trash, so public bins means more cost to the city and more incentive for locals to sneak household garbage into the cans on the street. There is also concern over terrorism, since bombs/IEDs can be planted in them easily; many bins have been removed from parts of London, New York, Tokyo and other cities for security reasons, or replaced with vastly more expensive bomb-proof versions. – choster Jun 10 at 20:17
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Taiwan's policy, related to trash, is that you are expected to take your trash home and dispose of it properly, that is, using the correct bin for separate collection of different types of trash. This is part of a rather comprehensive policy on how to process trash, after, years ago, Taipei's streets were lined with trash and very stinky.

A podcast called "99% Invisible" did a piece on this a while back.

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    If you don't mind me asking, is this a successful policy or do people just ignore it? – LogicalBranch Jun 10 at 14:26
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    @LogicalBranch; someone based on Taiwan would be better at answering this, but if the referenced podcast is to be believed, Taiwan's policy is hugely successful. – MastaBaba Jun 10 at 16:07
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    @LogicalBranch - Per OP's comment (although anecdotal), it seems to be working; "...it always feels off when there's a lack of public trashcans, yet the streets mostly are litter free" – BruceWayne Jun 10 at 16:51
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    After visiting Taipei, Kaohsiung, and Hsinchu, I was actually pretty surprised to see most streets really, really clean. The only exceptions were night markets and other heavily crowded touristy areas, which is only natural to happen, but it reminded me a lot of Singapore. – yuritsuki Jun 10 at 16:51
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    It works but it's kinda annoying - especially the bit where you gotta stand outside your office friday at 7pm with your trashbags in hand, waiting to hand deliver them into the trash truck. Other than that, the streets are remarkably clean, even the morning after a weekend night market evening. – Caleb Jay Jun 10 at 23:35
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Taiwan has more expensive official trash bags which are needed to throw out non-separated trash. Separated waste can be put in any cheap bag. If people would have free public trashcans, this won't help encourage recycling.

Another reason is that the trashcans will attract insects and rats.

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