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Volume Based Waste Fee(VBMF) System for Municipal Solid Waste

등록일 2017-01-13 분류 Environment 글쓴이 ssunha
작성자
Ki-Yeong Yu
소속
the Seoul Institute
작성일
2017-01-13
최종수정일
2018-06-12

Background

Implementing a Pay-as-You-Throw System

The amount of daily waste<1> generated by 10.3 million citizens, 4 million households and 780,000 businesses in 2012 was 9,189 tons per day, or 0.88 kg per person. All such waste has to be discarded according to regulations of the 25 autonomous gu-districts, who also issue the waste bags that must be used when households dispose of this waste (to be sent to incineration facilities or landfills).

Food waste must go in standard waste bags that are purchased by the consumer, or a chip- or RFID-based system must be used. Large items require that stickers be purchased from the relevant gu-districts, which are then attached to the item before discarding, or large items can be delivered to specialized waste collection agents (Ministry of Environment, Nov. 2012; Resource Recirculation Bureau, Ministry of Environment, Nov. 2012). Items that can be recycled like paper, scrap metal, large and small home appliances, fluorescent lamps, batteries, cooking oil, etc. should be separated and discarded according to government regulations (Ministry of Environment, 2011).
 
For general and food waste, the consumer covers all or part of the cost of waste collection and handling, which depends on the amount of waste discarded. It is called a “pay-as-you-throw” system. General waste and food waste are measured differently. General waste goes in standard bags which are made according to the standards<2> set by the government. The consumer can purchase the desired size of such bags at convenience stores, grocery stores, laundromats and other designated establishments.

The costs of collecting and handling the waste, producing the bags and paying commissions to the stores are all included in the price of the bags, making them a kind of marketable security.
 
There are various ways to measure food waste: an RFID-based weighing system, RFID chips (or stickers) or standard waste bags. The RFID-based weighing system imposes disposal fees according to weight. One advantage of this system is the accurate weighing of discarded waste. Disadvantages include that the system is a complicated configuration of weighing devices, a discarder recognition system and storing devices to save information on who threw away how much. Chips or stickers are used with standard containers. Daily and monthly volume measuring are all possible with this method.
 
Besides recyclables, large items and used coal briquettes, which are allowed to be discarded via other methods, all other waste must be discarded in Seoul according to a volume-based waste fee (VBWF) system. Failure to pay the related fees is a violation of the Waste Management Act and local ordinances, and is subject to the related penalties. 

<Table 1> Breakdown of Elements in the Pay-as-You-Throw System in Seoul

 

General Waste

Food Waste

Measuring Methods

Standard Bags
 

RFID-based weighing system
Chips or stickers
Standard bags

Standard Bags

General: 3ℓ, 5ℓ, 10ℓ, 20ℓ, 30ℓ, 50ℓ, 75ℓ, 100ℓ
Reuse: 10ℓ, 20ℓ
Public: 30ℓ, 50ℓ, 100ℓ

General: 1ℓ, 2ℓ, 3ℓ, 5ℓ, 10ℓ
* 20ℓ and larger can be used during holidays, kimchi-making season, etc.

Standard Bag Colors

General & Reuse: White
Public: Blue

General: Yellow

Standard Bag Materials

PE
Biodegradable

PE
Biodegradable

Examples


Standard bags for general waste


RFID-based weighing system

Background to Introduction of the Pay-as-You-Throw System

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Korea felt full of self-confidence thanks to its successful hosting of the Asian Games in 1986 and the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988, as well as continuing economic success. A great variety of products were available and plastic was mass-produced thanks to the development of production technologies.

So many products led to increasing amounts of waste. Seoul, the nation’s capital, could not secure the space needed for landfills to handle more waste, as the city continued expanding outwards.
 
As Nanji Landfill (operated from 1978 to 1993) came close to capacity, the central government led a project to establish new waste treatment facilities in the metropolitan area to treat the waste from Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi-do (province) in 1989. But moving forward proved very difficult due to strong opposition from residents living near the expected locations of these facilities.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) also planned to build 11 incineration facilities for all daily waste from Seoul, but encountered opposition from neighboring citizens and civil society concerned about excessive facility construction. By 1996, only the incineration facilities in Yangcheon (400 tons per day) and Nowon (800 tons per day) had been built, and only 4 more (with a total capacity for 2,850 tons of waste per day) after that. To address the increasing quantity of toxic waste, the government started to take an interest in recycling as an alternative.

Recycling boxes appeared in Seoul apartment complexes in 1990, and began to be provided to detached housing neighborhoods the following year. However, people were not familiar with the idea of separating their garbage, and in detached housing neighborhoods, half of the collected recyclables was general garbage. In addition, the changes in waste management cost a lot of money, used landfills a long distance away, and required incineration facilities. As shown in the data from 1991, waste management cost KRW 280 billion while fees covered only KRW 25.4 billion - just 9% of the total bill. Most of the expenses for waste treatment were absorbed by the general account budget, while waste generators, the general public, absorbed very little (SMG, 1992). 

 

<Figure 1> Main Waste Management Projects Before & After Introduction of the Pay-as-You-Throw System

 
In this situation, the government started seeking ways to fundamentally reduce the amount of waste (waste reduction), lower the dependence on incineration facilities or landfills through recycling (promotion of recycling), and charge waste generators (the general public) for the costs of waste management (securing financial resources). The pay-as-you-throw system was chosen. Entering the 1980s, the necessity of introducing such a system had been raised in a corner of academic circles (Environmental Planning Institute, Seoul National University’s Graduate School of Environment, 1983; Jeong-jeon Lee, 1991).

However, prior to 1995, the fees for waste disposal in Seoul had been collected as a kind of tax based on building areas or property taxes, which had nothing to do with the amount of waste produced (Ki-young Yu and Jae-cheon Jeong, 1995). The pay-as-you-throw system was established through creation of the right social atmosphere, conditions for implementation, and pilot projects, etc., and has gone through several changes before it reached its current form.
 
<Table 2> Waste Disposal Fee Systems in Seoul Prior to Pay-as-You-Throw
 
  Types of Waste Grade Basis for Calculating Fees
1980s General waste (small amount) 7 Total building ground area
General waste (large amount) - Weight
Business waste 6 Total building ground area
Early 1990s Household waste 9 Total building ground area/ property tax
Business waste (large amount) 2 Weight
Business Site Waste (Small Amount) 6 Total building ground area
1994
(Just before introduction of the pay-as-you-throw system)
Household waste 9 Total building ground area
Business waste (small amount) 6 Total building ground area
Business waste (normal amount) 1 Volume
Business waste (large amount) 2 Volume
Construction waste - Volume
Home appliances 7 Kind, volume
Furniture 7 Kind, volume
1995
(Enforcement of pay-as-you-throw
system)
General/Food waste - Size, number of standard bags
Large items - Kind, size, number
Recyclable items - Free

History

- Preparation Stage (1992~1994)

The pay-as-you-throw system was introduced in 1995, but preparations began in the early 1990s with practical arrangements started in 1992 with the government at its center. Surveys and research were conducted from September 1992 to January 1993 by the Korea Society of Waste Management to verify the usefulness of such a system. The main thrust of the survey and research were amendment of relevant legislation, measures for enforcement, expected effects, ripple effects, etc. In 1993, the government began the process of collecting the opinions of people from all walks of life regarding introduction of the system.

Public hearings and meetings with private organizations, relevant experts, cleaning companies, etc. (Feb. ~ Jul. 1993), meetings with consumer groups, groups of housewives and waste bag manufacturers (Jul. 1993), and meetings with managers of urban and provincial cleaning departments were held during the process, and opinions collected from waste subcommittees (Jul. ~ Aug. 1993). The opinions of related organizations and institutes on the legal status of standard waste bags were also heard (Sep. 1993). The result was that the waste bags could be regarded as official documents as long as the positions of mayor or district heads as well as the marks of the city hall or the gu-district offices were on the bags, and that it would be considered forgery of official documents if anyone were to create and sell their own bags that claimed to be official.
 
One year before the pay-as-you-throw system was introduced nationwide, pilot projects were conducted in 33 cities, counties and districts (Apr. ~ Dec. 1994). In Seoul, Jung-gu participated as a commercial area, Seongbuk-gu as a detached housing area and Songpa-gu as an apartment area (SMG, 1994). Before that, the central government announced measures to aid implementation of the system, including the waste fees, ways to distribute the standard bags, and handling the expected increase of recyclables (Nov. 1993).

During the pilot projects, the government concentrated on finding details on the waste discarded, standard waste bags, degree of public participation, flow of community opinions, etc. The government assembled a civil assessment team consisting of 7 civic groups including the YWCA, YMCA, Green Korea United, the Korean Federation of Environmental Movements and 165 monitoring agents to provide assessment and reporting on the status of the projects. There were significant concerns about negative effects, such as illegal dumping, but the assessment was mostly positive due to the 40% reduction of total waste, 100% increase in recyclables collected, the reduced cleaning costs, expansion of public awareness about reducing waste, and greater confidence in the program by civil employees.
 
Based on the problems that appeared during the pilot projects, the central government issued its “Guidelines on the Pay-as-You-Throw System” (Sep. 8th, 1994) to enforce it on a national scale. On November 7th, 1994, it held a meeting with the related urban and provincial officials to conduct an interim evaluation of the project by local governments. On December 7th of the same year, the government issued guidelines on how to fix the problems identified during the interim inspection, such as the expected rapid increase of regional processing of recyclables, handling the large amount of waste expected to be thrown away just before enforcement of the new system at the end of the year, and increasing the manpower it would need.

In addition, the government revised and amended related ordinances, initiated the manufacturing of the waste bags, designated the stores to sell the bags, and engaged in public relations activities, etc. in preparation for system introduction on Jan. 1st, 1995. In particular, the government carried out a public relations campaign to address complaints from the public about why they should have to pay to throw away their garbage via media outlets such as TV commercials, advertisements in the daily press, and TV talk shows, and made and distributed promotional materials like VTR tapes, PR books, and posters (Ministry of Environment and Korea Environment Institute, 2012).

<Figure 2> Main Projects in Introducing the Pay-as-You-Throw System

1992 1993 1994 1995
∎ Sep. 1992~Jan. 1993
Feasibility study for introduction of the Pay-as-You-Throw System
∎ Feb. ~ Aug. 1993
  Collection of opinions of people from all walks of life
∎ Sep. 1993
   Confirmation of the official status of standard bags
∎ Nov. 1993
   Preparation of guidelines for the pilot projects
∎ Apr. ~ Dec. 1994
  Pilot implementation: Jung-gu, Seongbuk-gu and Songpa-gu, Seoul
∎ Monitoring of pilot projects by the civic assessment team
∎ Preparation for nationwide enforcement
∎ Nationwide PR
∎ Jan. 1st, 1995. ~
   Nationwide enforcement of the pay-as-you-throw system
 

- Introduction Stage (1995)

The pay-as-you-throw system was implemented nationwide on January 1st, 1995. As a result, the previous waste collection fee was replaced with the price of waste bags, which could only be used in the region printed on the bag. General waste was to be placed up to the dotted line of bags purchased from designated stores and discarded in front of houses. The recyclables were separated into paper, bottles, cans and plastics and then discarded. Large items like refrigerators and cabinets were collected after prior phone notification of the administrative organizations, where callers would give their address, name, type and size of waste. Visiting civil employees would then issue a bill for the disposal. In consideration of low-income households, coal briquette ashes were allowed to be disposed of without using the standard bags. For groups protected by the livelihood protection law and other poor households as authorized by the heads of local governments, around 60ℓ of standard bags were provided for free or the purchasing price was reduced (Ministry of Environment, May 1997).

In the beginning, many members of the public had difficulty with the volume-rate waste disposal methods. There were many cases where recyclables were not distinguished from general household waste. Some dumped randomly their household trash prior to enforcement of the pay-as-you-throw system - especially large items like cabinets and refrigerators, which intensified the confusion. However, these things happened often only in the early stages, and became less frequent as time went by.
 
In April 1995, the government had a meeting 100 days after implementation of the system to evaluate implementation. Before this time, a survey of 1,000 households was conducted, which showed that people had nearly completely adapted to the system within a month after implementation. Ninety-eight percent of the respondents stated they were comfortable with the system, while the most widely-used standard bags were 10ℓ, 5ℓ and 20ℓ, in that order.

The suggestions for improvement in the evaluation meeting were regarding the strength and convenience of the standard waste bags; application of the system to waste in public places; enhancement of convenience for separation of recyclables by displaying the recycling mark; timely collection of recyclables; prohibiting the collection of recyclables mixed with waste; prohibiting excessive packaging of disposable products; initiating the system in government organizations; preparation of criteria for enforcing penalties; establishing and expanding recycling networks; determining an appropriate price for standard bags; securing a budget for the pay-as-you-throw system; and supply and promotion of system-related information.
 
 

- Development Stage (From 1996)

Many aspects of implementation of the pay-as-you-throw system concerned the government and inconvenienced the public. However, these were outweighed by the many benefits through the 20 years from its beginnings in 1995 to 2015, including a practical reduction of waste, facilitation of separate disposal of recyclables and expansion of public awareness of the need to reduce waste reduction. In the meantime, the pay-as-you-throw system has been developed and changed continuously.
 
The most troublesome problem in the beginning was how to handle the collected recyclables. This was resolved by enacting a producer responsibility regulation in 2003, which mandated the separation of recyclables into paper, plastic, scrap metal (including cans) and glass bottles. Under the pay-as-you-throw system, the amount of collected recyclables increased but the demand for recyclables remained the same. The producer responsibility regulation involved a deposit system for a limited number of items including paper packs, PET bottles, steel cans, and glass bottles. However, the system did not increase the demand for recycling, because many manufacturers gave up the deposit.

A decision was made to convert the deposit system into an expanded producer responsibility scheme, which required producers to handle their own recyclables. The applicable items were greatly expanded to include paper, plastic, scrap metal (including cans), glass bottles, large and small home appliances, fluorescent lamps and batteries. As a result, the supply of and demand for recyclables dramatically improved.
 
In 1997, the government began providing heavy-duty bags exclusively for waste that posed a danger for both discarders and collectors when handling. These special bags were used to hold broken glass, small amounts of construction waste, and other things sharp or heavy enough to cause physical injury, especially in the process of collection, and were made of tough and easy-to-handle poly propylene.
 
The standard waste bag, a core component in implementing the pay-as-you-throw system, was a very convenient tool for measuring the amount of waste in a large city like Seoul, where it is difficult to identify the discarders. But it was pointed out repeatedly that the waste bags themselves were disposable products and became waste after a single use. To address this issue, the government recommended that large grocery stores (E-mart, Homeplus, Lotte mart, National Agricultural Cooperative Federation or Nonghyup Hanaro Club and Mega Mart) begin selling these standard waste bags to their customers instead of their usual store-name grocery bags. This began in Seoul in 2010. The bag was called a reusable bag as consumers could also use it as a standard waste bag, and was sold for the same price as the standard bag at other stores.
 
The most innovative development was introduction of the weighted food waste disposal system. Many autonomous gu-districts could not apply the pay-per-disposal system properly for food waste, as most used the standard food waste containers and imposed the same fee on all households regardless of the amount of food waste they generated. Some districts collected this food waste free of charge. There were reasons for these differences. The standard bag was polyethylene, which became foreign material in food waste treatment, lowering the quality of feed or compost made from the food waste, and making feed or compost consumers reluctant to buy. The districts were also confused about the justification of imposing fees for food waste which could simply go into the regular garbage collection, while they were collecting recyclables free of charge.

However, it was very difficult to turn the enormous amounts of generated food waste into recycled resources or apply the expanded producer responsibility scheme. Thus, the national government decided to introduce a system of weighing food waste in order to reduce it. The SMG also enacted the system in 2003 (SMG, https://seoulsolution.kr).
 
The government felt that the system should operate not on the basis of volume, but on the basis of weight because food waste is heavier than general waste. As a result of this change, it was reported that food waste was reduced by 10~30% (Korea Institute of Industrial Relations and Korea Environment Corporation, Dec. 2013). Under this system, the amount of food waste is recorded by each individual when it is discarded, and households are charged monthly fees accordingly. However, the system is not used with all households, but only some apartment complexes, as system installation and operation is costly and requires space. For detached houses and restaurants, the standard bags or standard containers with identification chips are generally used (Resource Recirculation Bureau of the Ministry of Environment, Nov. 2012).
 
<Table 3> Methods & Features of Food Waste Disposal Systems
 
Item RFID Weight Method Chip Method Standard Bag
Recognition of
Discarder
Electronic tag/electronic card NA NA
Measuring Unit Weight Volume Volume
Storing Container Individual container Individual container Bag + base container
Imposition of Fees By household/restaurant By household By household
Payment of Fees Deferred payment Advance payment Advance payment
Resulting Waste Reduction 9~31% 14% 13%
Items
RFID weighing
 system

A
standard container with identification chip

Standard bags

This metered waste fee system has continued to develop. During the process, the government periodically monitored the system to see how it was operating and to identify any problems. This included system acceptance by the general public, inconveniences when discarding, problems during cleaning, and issues related to the recycling industry in general. In the beginning, the government annually evaluated system achievements, holding a meeting in 2005 to look back on the system’s first 10 years. In 2004, it began to review statistics of standard bag sales by local governments, waste treatment facilities, ways to secure the financial resources for cleaning, enforcement of regulations against illegal dumping, etc. and issued a report. The guidelines for the waste disposal system were amended in 1997, 2001, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012.
 

<Figure 3> Sourcebook on Achievements of the Waste Disposal System & Improvements to Implementation

 

Achievements

Accelerating Waste Reduction

According to Seoul statistics, with 1994 as the base year (the year before the pay-as-you-throw system was implemented), the amount of waste decreased by 8% in 1995, and 11% in 1996. In the first year of the system, many large items were discarded because it was free to do so at the time. Therefore, the decrease in the 2nd year, 1996, can be assumed to be more accurate. An 11% reduction of waste equals about 1,712 tons per day. The average capacity of each of the 4 incineration facilities in Seoul is 700 tons per day<1>. In other words, the amount of waste reduced was equal to the capacity of 2~3 incineration facilities.
 
Of course, there are different arguments regarding the reasons for the reduction. According to some, the rapidly-decreasing use of coal briquettes and regulatory policy on disposable items and product packaging also affected waste reduction (Yong-seon Oh, 2006). On the other hand, another study showed that even when other factors are considered, the waste disposal system was the most significant reason behind the reduction in waste (Kwang-ho Jeong et al, 2007). Such evaluations were not really about the waste reduction itself, but on the impact of the system. The public became more sensitive to over-packaging when choosing products, and when purchasing, left behind the packing, or asked sellers to take packaging back after product delivery. Such reactions by consumers influenced manufacturers and were reflected in product design. After introduction of the pay-as-you-throw system, there were obvious changes in consumption patterns recognized by all.
 
<Table 4> Before & After Introduction of the Pay-as-You-Throw System: Changes to Amount of Waste Generated
 
  1994
(Preparation)
1995
(Enforcement)
1996
(2nd Year)
Total (tons/day) 15,397 14,102 13,685
Per person (kg/day) 1.43 1.33 1.31
 
 

Early Adoption of Habitual Separation of Recyclables

The outstanding results of the pay-as-you-throw system included the early adoption of effective separation of recyclables in a short period of time. Between 1994 and 1996, the amount of recyclables increased by 881 tons per day. The proportion of total waste made up of recyclable material was 20.5% in 1994, 29.3% in 1995 (enforcement of the system) and 29.5% in 1996, showing an increase of 9% in 1996 (2nd year) over 1994. There were different evaluations of the effects on waste reduction, but general agreement on the early adoption of habitual separation of recyclables, which led to a reduced demand for waste treatment facilities. With an average incinerator capacity of 700 tons per day, the amount of waste reduced equaled the capacity of 1.3 incineration facilities.
 
<Table 5> Before & After Introduction of the Pay-as-You-Throw System: Changes to Amount of Recyclable Waste
 
  1993
(Fixed Ratio)
1994
(Preparation)
1995
(Enforcement)
1996
(2nd Year)
Total Waste (tons/day) 16,021 15,397 14,102 13,685
Recycled Amount
(tons/day)
2,940 3,156 4,131 4,037
Recycling Rate (%) 18.4 20.5 29.3 29.5
 

Fees to Cover Waste Management Costs

The financial independence rate (revenue from fees, etc. compared to the expenses for waste management) in 1991 was just 9%, meaning that the burden on those generating the waste was very low (SMG, 1992). The pay-as-you-throw system was introduced for this reason. With it, the fees paid by those generating waste increased from KRW 119.9 billion in 1993 to KRW 153.6 billion in 1995 (the growth rate of 28%). Another desirable aspect was that the total waste revenue increased without noticeably increasing the burden per household. The monthly fee per household before the pay-as-you-throw system was KRW 2,102, and KRW 2,288 after introduction. However, the number of households paying the fees expanded from 1.69 million to 2.97 million. In conclusion, the pay-as-you-throw system was effective in improving the fee structure and increasing waste-related revenues.
 
<Table 6> Changes to Waste Fees with the Pay-as-You-Throw System
 
  1993
(Fixed Ratio)
1995
(Enforcement)
1995/1993
(Increase)
Fee Revenue (KRW Bil.) 119.912 153.638 28%
 

Economic Benefits

In 2005, the government evaluated the 10-year performance of the pay-as-you-throw system that had been introduced in 1995. According to the evaluation, 1 ton of waste reduction created a benefit of KRW 144,071, while 1 ton of waste recycling created a benefit of KRW 18,901. The benefits of waste reduction came from the reduced costs for waste collection and transportation, and the installation and operation of treatment facilities. The benefit of recycled waste was the value earned after deducting the cost of collection and transportation, sorting, processing, etc. from the total value of the recyclable items (Korea Institute of Industrial Relations and Korea Environment Corporation, Dec. 2013). In Seoul, it seemed that the cost of waste collection, transportation and processing would be reduced by KRW 90 billion and an additional KRW 6.1 billion would be generated in economic benefit, for a total of KRW 96.1 billion per year if the government evaluations above were applied to Seoul.
 
 
<Table 7> Change of Costs under the Pay-as-You-Throw System
 
  Increase/Decrease Amount
(1996-1994, tons/year)
Benefit per Unit
(KRW/ton)
Scale of Benefit
(KRW bil./year)
Change -624,880 reduced +144,071 +90
Recycling +321,565 +18,901 +6.1
Total Benefits - - +96.1

Meaningful Experiences

- Thorough Preparation

The VBWF system is inconvenient for citizens as discarders of waste. Even experts opposed introduction of the system, saying that other countries hesitated out of concern for illegal dumping. Korea’s pay-as-you-throw system was introduced with the support of the government, cities and some scholars concerned about the difficulty in securing the necessary waste treatment facilities, but not the support of the majority of people.

To cope with this negative atmosphere, it was necessary to remove the institutional obstacles in advance, create an amicable situation for the system, identify the benefits and problems through pilot projects and persuade people of the benefits. It was particularly imperative to find the best methods for implementation in each city during the preparation stages. In Seoul, it was not easy to identify waste discarders because there are many commercial and residential high-rises and the city space is small and narrow. This is why Seoul decided to use standard waste bags as the way to measure the amount of waste.

However, it was desirable to use bins only for waste in areas with many detached houses and developed roads because it was possible to prevent excessive waste of disposable bags and illegal dumping through an agreement with the public on the size of waste bins and to reduce the cost of waste collection with an automated bin loading vehicle system.

Cooperation with the Public

Environmental associations played a large role in the public adapting the pay-as-you-throw system in Korea. During discussions on introduction of the system, the general public did not have a favorable opinion, due to concerns about illegal dumping to avoid paying the fees and unease with the intention of government to shift the responsibility for reducing and recycling waste onto the people. However, the positive aspects of the system became better known with people participating in site monitoring activities and pilot projects during the first year of project implementation.


The public has continued to participate in evaluations of the pilot project and the first, second and tenth years of implementation. Even now it is involved in assessing the food waste disposal system. Positive evaluations from society have contributed greatly to the change of attitude in the mass media and national consciousness.

Handling the Increased Amount of Recyclables

The collection of separated recyclables free of charge was implemented in a short time, but processing the collected recyclables became the task of the government. The biggest headache was the non-PET plastic containers (PE, PP, PS and PVC materials). While designated as recyclables, there was insufficient infrastructure to treat such plastic products. In addition, the producers were not responsible for the treatment of waste plastic because the waste handling fees were imposed on most plastic containers.

The issue was resolved in 2003 when the government lent financial support to plastic recycling operators to assist with facility installation and operations, had the public sector purchase products of recycled plastic over new plastic, and imposed on manufacturers the obligation to collect and process recyclables (including the plastic containers) where the recycling market was weak (Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme).
 
With introduction of the pay-as-you-throw system, an unplanned recycling component was added. Because of the strong odors from landfills, many complaints were raised one year after system introduction. The same complaints were heard about roads leading to waste treatment facilities. The cause of the problem was food waste and the paper used to wrap it. This paper acted as an odor buffer in standard bags, absorbing the leachate and blocking the smell of the food waste to some degree, but the paper was classified as a recyclable item.

The main cause of the odor was that this paper was no longer discarded with general waste, a problem that was resolved by collecting the food waste separately and changing the treatment system on a large scale. Landfill for any kind of food waste was prohibited in 2005, and the government began constructing food waste treatment facilities in 1998. Seoul has 5 such locations, with private facilities providing extra capacity.

Preventing Illegal Behavior

When reviewing the system, the most concerning side effect was the illegal dumping done to avoid paying the fees. Many people dumped household or business trash in public wastebaskets or in quiet or abandoned places and did not use the standard waste bags. To prevent this, reflectors were installed and flower gardens put where illegal dumping was common. Some districts removed public wastebaskets on downtown streets.

This reduced illegal dumping significantly, but did not eliminate it. In the meantime, the systems supporting the imposition of penalties for illegal waste disposal and providing standard bags to low-income households free of charge were prepared.


Garbage dumped in the suburbs (http://waste21.or.kr)

 Non-standard bags (http://waste21.or.kr)