중앙데일리

Buy the bag and be punctual

Closely controlled waste management system in Korea

June 13,2004
Here’s this week’s tip on Korean language and customs:

Q:
My neighborhood in northern Seoul has really been cleaned up in the past few years. One thing I wonder, though, is how come there aren’t any trash cans in Korea?

In my neighborhood, people throw garbage bags in the street or in parking lots all the time. The sight and the smell are quite awful.

A:
There used to be trash cans everywhere in Korea, but people would often use them to dispose of their household waste, or even dangerous chemicals. So the Korean government created a new method of waste control.

Citizens must buy special plastic trash bags from authorized sellers in the neighborhood. They come in various sizes and are labeled for different types of waste materials. They put the bags out on the street on designated days of the week. For example, in some communities, paper, glass or canned goods might be recycled on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Large items, such as furniture, cost extra to dispose of.

Sometimes people try to duck these laws and throw their garbage haphazardly in vacant lots or elsewhere in the street. This is illegal. Waste disposal is monitored, often with overhead CCTVs, and checked by volunteers and public employees; those who get caught illegally throwing out garbage are fined.


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