Saturday, May 21, 2011

5.21.11 Sorting the Trash

No, this is not a post about the rapture that is supposed to happen today. I mean sorting the trash for recycling. As you can see from the picture, without a good grasp of hangeul it's not that simple. Even purchasing trash bags is difficult - you can't find your basic Hefty Bag anywhere here. Our handler, Kate, mentioned in passing that we had to use the "white bags" because we live in an apartment. Eventually I searched the internet for an English explanation. Here's what came up:

"Korea uses a system called "jongnyangje" for the effective collection of garbage wastes and the reuse of natural resources. All garbage you produce must be disposed of properly, and you may be fined otherwise. Garbage must be separated according to whether it is "common garbage" (ilban sseuregi), food waste (eumsikmul sseuregi), recyclable (jaehwal yongpum), and large waste objects (daehyeong pyegimul). Ask your neighbors, your city or neighborhood government authorities, or the management office in your apartment complex about disposal days and proper methods of disposal.

Purchasing Garbage Bags
In cities, regulation garbage bags may be purchased at supermarkets or convenience stores in your neighborhood. In rural areas they may be purchased at the local government offices or through the local women's association(bunyeohoe). There are generally six or seven sizes; 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 liters, and prices vary according to size.

Disposal Procedures
(1) Common Garbage: Use regulation bags and place outside. Ask the building owner or a neighbor about where to place them. If you don't use regulation bags, your garbage will not be collected.
(2) Food Waste: Remove all moisture and anything that cannot be eaten by livestock, then use a regulation bag for disposal. In areas where there are collection boxes dedicated for food waste disposal, you do not need to use regulation bags. Food waste produced by families and restaurants have high moisture levels, making incineration difficult, and the moisture continues to seep out in the landfill, which in turn pollutes water resources.
(3) Recyclable Items: Materials that are recyclable such as plastic, cans, bottles, and paper should be put in a clear plastic bag or even a sandbag-like bag and put in the appropriate spot on collection day. Spray cans, cooking-gas cans, and other such things can explode, so put a hole in these to make sure they are completely empty
Paper: Tie newspapers, calendars, magazines, or notebooks in 30 cm bundles. (Ensure cartons are cleaned before disposing of them). 
Glass: Wine, soft drink and medicine bottles must be cleaned before disposing of them. 
Scrap iron: Metal chairs, albata (German silver), stainless steel, etc. should be collected separately. 
Cans: Beer, soft drink and powdered milk cans should be compressed before disposing of them. 
Plastics: Detergent and shampoo containers should be disposed of only after they have been rinsed with water
(4) Large Waste Objects Televisions, washing machines, other home electronics and large items of garbage that cannot be placed in bags should be placed in the collection spot after attaching a sticker purchased at your local dong office or where you purchase your regulation bags."

So that's cleared up - sort of. We are still trying to figure out what "remove all moisture" means exactly...


  1. You'll probably have to buy a separate dish drying rack just for the trash/recycle. @_@

    The trash bins you took a picture of sure have a "we really don't care" feel about them though.

  2. Holy shit! That is incredibly anal and stress-inducing. I guess there's always stuff you never even considered having to adjust to when you move to a new country.

  3. Krystle - it's true about the "we realy don't care" atitude. Despite this elaborate recycling plan, the city has a pretty pronounced litter problem. It reminds me of other cities I've visited - places like L.A. or New York. There is litter everywhere, and not nearly enough trash cans.

    Raksha - it was stressful until I realized that we might be the only people on our block who are actually trying to adhere to the rules... :/

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