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Ban on Direct Reclamation of Food Trash

Posted December. 29, 2004 22:49,   


At a tenement house in Bundang-gu, Seongnam of Gyonggi Province. A housewife (44) was dumping her trash in a trash bag at the designated place. The trash bag she was using was the designated bag that the garbage-volume-rate system (a pay-as-you-throw system for garbage collection) requires.

“Is there food trash in the trash bag?” reporters asked her. “A couple of tangerine peels,” said she, not paying much attention.

Reporters at the same place opened a couple of other trash bags with the permission of locals. Fruit peels, fish residues, half eaten vegetables, and vinyl bags stained with seasonings were found.

“Do you know that food trash is not be dumped with other trash in trash bags?” reporters asked. “Why is that a problem? I pay for the trash bag that I put that food trash in,” she replied, with a look saying that she could not understand.

However, starting next year, dumping food trash in a trash bag will be considered illegal, so when caught, the fine will be 50,000-100,000 won.

In city areas, separating food trash from other garbage has been recommended since 1997, but until now, no fine has been imposed.

However, the separation will be mandatory, as the direct reclamation of food trash will be banned starting next month,

Non-separation does not blame the individual only. If a garbage truck loaded with food trash is caught attempting to dump trash into a reclamation site, the truck will not be allowed to go into the reclamation site and will have to go back. The concerned authority has decided to impose six points of traffic black marks on the truck and immediately make it return.

Confusion is Expected Due to Sloppy Preparedness—

With only a few days before the enforcement of this law, plenty of local are not aware of the new regulations due to the idleness of government offices and local government authorities that have not put in sufficient efforts to inform the locals.

Some cities still have not prepared enough facilities to deal with food trash. According to research by reporters, on a daily basis, Geang-ju needs space to process 110 tons of food trashes, and Ulsan needs 44 tons.

If not dealt with soon, a huge amount of food trash could end up on the streets or piled up at temporary storage sites, reeking of that unbearable rotten smell. This would be a “garbage disaster.”

Fortunately, in most regions, if the separation is done properly, such a disaster will not happen.

The total capacity that processing facilities can handle is 11,335 tons a day, which is close to the 2005 estimated amount of food trash, 11,863 tons. Those facilities process food trashes to produce fodders and manures.

Inconsistent Separation Standard—

Since separation standards are different from each local government authority, households are expected to experience confusion, which means people have to check the standard of the region where they are at the time of dumping.

For instance, in Jeju island, brown seaweed and tangleweed are not considered food, so they have to be dumped into a trash bag for non-food trash. So are the ginger peels in Northern Jeolla Province, and Kimchi residue in Chuncheon.

Such inconsistency is because the processing facilities of each local government authority are different from each other.

Kimchi residue can be reused for fodder but not for manure, because it would melt away during the process. So, the local government authority that has the facility for making manure only cannot categorize Kimchi residue as food trash.

Rotten foods can be recycled in the facility for making manure, but not in a facility for making fodder.

Wan-Bae Lee roryrery@donga.com