A smart approach to waste

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A smart approach to waste

The Seoul Metropolitan Government said it will push forward with a plan to have three city districts share each other’s waste facilities.
The three districts ― Nowon, Dobong, and Gangbuk ― would share Nowon’s incinerator, Dobong’s food waste processing plant and Gangbuk’s waste recycling facility, according to the city government. The win-win resolution carries extra meaning because across the country, regions are battling over who has to have these “disgusting facilities” located in their area.
“Disgusting facilities,” which people want to keep out of their neighborhoods, include landfills, nuclear power plants, crematoriums, charnel houses, sewage disposal plants, etc. Reasons for aversion are diverse.
The social costs are enormous as regional selfishness gets more and more severe. Government projects to build shelters for the elderly or for military forces, and private businesses like chicken farms or animal feed plants have also been marred. Violent clashes between police and unhappy residents often occur.
It cannot be denied we need these facilities in today’s world. But we cannot build facilities like incinerators or crematoriums in every district. That would be a huge waste of funds and become a burden for residents.
The answer is the win-win resolution. Adjacent regions have to share and run “disgusting faculties” together. Mungyeong and Sangju city in North Gyeongsang province have been saving significant funds by sharing sewage facilities and a purification plant. In Japan, three to 10 local districts jointly operate a crematorium.
No matter how great the resolution is, the national and local governments have to persuade residents to help the resolution succeed. The governments should not push forward the resolutions using administrative power.
Developed countries open residents’ minds by offering plentiful compensation and disclosing information that will affect public health. The Suwon city government, which persuaded residents to voluntarily establish a crematorium several years ago through persevering negotiations, is a good example.
While residents’ interests will differ regionally, we hope they will make concessions for the greater good.
When the government, local governments and residents open their minds to win-win cooperation, we can solve the problem of “disgusting facilities.”
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