Land & Waste

Land &

of wastes is recycled and reborn as resources in Korea

Korea is proud of having the world’s most advanced waste management system in place. Decades-long separate disposal system for recyclable wastes and volume-based garbage fees for general and food wastes are the two pillars of the country’s wastes management. Korea’s extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme imposes product manufacturers the obligation to collect and recycle the wastes derived from their products. An increasingly stricter restriction is applied on the use of singleuse goods such as drink cups in coffee shops and plastic bags in supermarkets. A half of the total waste amount in Korea comes from construction sites. The legal requirement of using recycled aggregates in public and private construction projects promotes the maximum recycling of the construction wastes. In recent years, policies to manage resources throughout their entire life cycle have been newly introduced and implemented with the aim of building a circular economy where resources are reused and recycled instead of ending up in a dump. Businesses generating large amount of wastes are given an individual recycling target to meet, and products are required to be easy to recycle from their designing state. In 2017, each Korean citizen discharged 1.02 kilograms of household wastes daily, only a third the amount in 1991. During the same period, Korea’s waste recycling rate increased up to 86%.

Goals and Measures

In Korea, as in the rest of the world, plastic waste is a priority concern that is taken very seriously. By 2030, Korea aims to reduce plastic wastes by 50% and recycle 70% of the waste plastics. The Comprehensive Measures of Waste Recycling announced in 2018 set a series of policy actions to be implemented in each stage of resource cycle from production, consumption, disposal, collection/ separation to recycling.