S. Korea deals with ongoing ‘waste chaos’ linked to recycling issues

Repercussions of China’s decision late last
year to stop importing plastic waste is being clearly felt around the world in recent months,…
with trash building up in countries like the U.S. and the UK. South Korea also has its own well-publicized
issues related with that development. While the government managed to find some
solutions, that’s not going to be enough in the long run. For details we turn to our Lee Jeong-yeon. The so-called ‘waste chaos’ in South Korea
started earlier this month when recycling collectors refused to take plastic bags, plastic
bottles, and even styrofoam. Responding to public concern over the growing
piles of trash, the Ministry of Environment says it’s persuaded the 48 main recycling
collectors in Seoul to resume their normal service. “There may be some confusion over recycling
for another couple of days, but we foresee everything returning to normal in due time.” The capital has some 3-thousand residential
complexes, and collection of some items was stopped at around 16-hundred of them. A recent site survey by the ministry found
that there are still 348 locations where it’s yet to resume. With waste being produced every day and piling
up outside homes, it’s becoming an increasingly pressing task for the government to come up
with more than just a quick-fix to the issue. The root cause of the problem: China has banned
the import of 24 kinds of solid waste, declaring last July it will no longer be the “world’s
garbage dump.” In less than a year, the value of recyclables
dropped from 130 won, or 12 U.S. cents, per kilogram,… to 90 won, or 8 cents, as of
last month. This has discouraged recycling collectors
from processing materials that are no longer lucrative. According to Greenpeace, China used to import
some 56-percent of the world’s waste, including South Korea’s. As a temporary solution, recycling collectors
got compensation to resume their services. But the government is also working to improve
Korea’s recycling industry overall. Discussions are being held to come up with
specific policies… on the basis of thorough on-site inspections, which will continue until
mid-June. Lee Jeong-yeon, Arirang News

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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