Seoul Campus

Sustainable Waste Management in Seoul 03

Date 2017-09-19 Writer ssunha
  • Environment
  • Jeamin Song
  • 2017-09-19

< MODULE 3 >

Hello everyone welcome to the third module of my lecture. In the previous modules, we have reviewed what kind of challenges and opportunities the waste sector has, and then we also reviewed the historical changes in waste management policy in Korea overtime.
Now the third module is the most important module in my lecture, and here I’d like to present and share the three best practices and policies by Seoul Metropolitan Government and Ministry of Environment. Here I'd named as smart solutions. The first smart solution I’d like to introduce is the introduction of Volume-based Waste Fee System.
It's hard to pronounce. so the Volume-based Waste Fee System is the first market-based instrument that has been adopted in the area of environmental management. So what is it? It requires citizens to buy a special plastic bag, looks like this, to discard their waste.
Before its introduction, waste charge was collected at a fixed rate so that means that citizens did not have any incentive to reduce their waste, the amount of waste, but the Volume-based Waste Fee System basically based on “polluter-pays” principle. That meant if you wanted to discard more waste, you have to buy a bigger plastic bag which costs more.
So basically it provides an incentive for citizens to reduce their waste generation. And it was introduced to fulfill the following two objectives. The first one is, as I explained before it aims to reduce the generation of waste, and secondly it aims to promote more recycling. Let me explain how it works.

Before the introduction of Volume-based Waste Fee System, most of the waste you put all the waste in one trash bag, and all the waste were sent to landfill, Nanjido in 1980s. As you can see from this diagram, only a small amount of waste was recycled.

However after the introduction of Volume-based Waste Fee System there have been significant changes in waste management in Korea. Now, only general waste were collected in volume-based trash bag and as I explained before, since citizens need to buy plastic bag to discard their waste, they tried to reduce the amount of waste generated. The other mechanism which really promotes recycling is the free collection of recyclables. Basically citizens can discard the recyclables free of charge. It doesn't require the use of that prepaid plastic bag.
So as you see from here because of the introduction, the introduction of Volume-based Waste Fee System, it created three very important effects on waste management. First, it really promoted waste separation at source. As I explained before since citizens wanted to discard as little waste in volume-based trash bag they separate their waste. If the waste is recyclables they will discard in the recyclables bins free of charge.
So it really promoted waste separation and that's one positive effect. Secondly because of the separation the amount of waste, the amount of waste was sent to the landfill has decreased significantly and lastly but most importantly, it really increased the recycling ratio.
When Volume-based Waste Fee was introduced, there was a systemic preparation and implementation before its former introduction in 1995. As you see from here at the preparation stage, very thorough feasibility study has been conducted by Korean society of waste management, and also a number of public hearings and meetings were held to inform citizens about new system, new policy.
Before its introduction in 1995, in 1994 pilot operation was implemented. So basically some of the district in Seoul had adopted this Volume-based Waste Fee System and it was test to see whether the system works well or not. The systematic preparation before the actual implementation was very important in the successful implementation of Volume-based Waste Fee System.
Then let me explain how the price of the bag is determined. As you see from here the price of bag is determined according to the local ordinance. The prices across municipalities vary but not with much difference, but there are some discrepancies among prices on plastic bags.
The price is basically determined considering the following facts: the cost of waste disposal and financial status of the local governments, and residents’ standard of living. The profit from the sales of the Volume-based Waste Fee System is used to cover waste treatment.
Actually it accounts for about 30 to 40 percent of the cost of waste treatment, so it's not enough. However I’d like to emphasize that the introduction of Volume-based Waste Fee System really changed the public perception on waste.
Now, with the introduction of this system people try to reduce their waste and they prefer to more environmentally friendly product, so looking for small packaging like that. So it really changed public perception on the waste and also that led to the changes in citizens’ behavior in waste management. Now let's move to the second solution.
Second solution, I named it as Multi-jurisdictional Cooperation on Waste Treatment. What I meant here is the joint use of waste treatment facilities among municipalities. Actually waste management is the responsibility of local government, so in the past each local municipality had a waste treatment facility to treat their own waste.
However because of the NIMBY, as we have seen from the experience of Seoul, when Nanjido was full, it was extremely hard to find a new place. So we know that to tackle the NIMBY, the Korean government these days are promoting regionalization of waste treatment facilities.
Here I came up with regional landfill. Regional landfill is a landfill which is used by many municipalities. And there are many benefits of regional landfill. First, it reduces costs because of the economies of scale. It also improves the economic feasibility of resource recovery since it can satisfy the minimum requirement of waste needed for resource recovery. Thirdly it lessens the administrative burden with fewer facilities to be managed. Lastly, as explained before it provides more flexibility in dealing with NIMBY phenomena.

I'd like to say that the best example of the joint use of waste treatment facility, it is Sudokwon landfill. As you see from here Sudogeun landfill is located in Incheon, and it is a Regional Landfill taking waste from Seoul, Incheon, and Gyonggi Province. It was built to replace Nanjido in 1980s, and it started taking waste in 1992. Sudokwon landfill is currently well known for proactive sanitary landfill and it has many facilities.
First of all, it consists of four landfill cells as you can see from this figure and explanation here. The first cell has been already closed after the use of eight years of landfill, and the second cell is currently open and taking waste and it is expected to be used until 2018, and the currently there are extra third and fourth cell.
And in addition to those landfill cells, there are variety of facilities like leachate treatment facility and solidification facility, at the Sudokwon landfill site. Let me briefly explain how the Sudokwon landfill site has been established. In the past, as I mentioned before, the Seoul with Geonggi Province and Incheon, had a hard time to find a new place for waste treatment.
But fortunately in 1970s and in 1980s in Korea, coastal land reclamation was popular to secure more land for agricultural propose. There are many disadvantages for coastal reclaimed land as landfill site, like difficulty in the leachate treatment, and also long transfer distance. But the advantages were much bigger than the disadvantages. Since it was coastal reclaimed land, the land price was relatively lower than inland.
Also since there were not many residents living in that area, there was not that much strong resistance from the residents. So because of those reasons Sudokwon landfill site was established in Kimpo which is coastal reclaimed land.
In the development of Sudokwon landfill, it involved two major costs. The first one for land purchase and the second one is for construction costs. As you can see from here land cost was paid with both the Ministry of Environment and Seoul Metropolitan Government, and in terms of construction costs were shared based on these factors.
The first one is population size and then financial status of the local governments. So considering these two factors, the share of responsibility was determined by coordination comity. As you can see from here, Seoul had most of the population and also produced the largest amount of waste.
Seoul was covering most of the costs for the construction of the Sudokwon landfill site. This is the institutional framework of the Sudokwon landfill. In terms of the joint use of waste treatment facilities, institutional arrangement is very important. In the beginning of the operation of Sudokwon landfill, there were two organizations which were in charge of operation and management of landfill sites.
Sudokwon Landfill Site Management Association, and Environmental Management Corporation. However the distributed responsibilities and decision-making process over two separate organizations were not smooth. In 2001 it was determined to establish one organization by integrating these two, which is the current Sudokwon Landfill Site Management Corporation.
Sudokwon Landfill Site Management Corporation is a public entity housed under Ministry of Environment. And with the excellent management of this SLC, now Sudokwon Landfill is well known for its good performance and as a good sanitary landfill. Other than SLC there are two very important organizations: Management Committee, Resident Consultative Committee.
And here, Management Committee consist of governmental officials and environment experts, and residents. They supervise what SLC is doing, and in terms of Resident Consultative Committee they represent the voices of residents in the area of Sudokwon Landfill Site. Now let me move to the third smart solution. Here I named it as To Use Waste as Resources. As I mentioned before, since 2000 much of the emphasis in waste management laid in the resource recovery, and I think the best example is the resource recovery facility in Seoul.

In Seoul we have four resource recovery facilities: one in Mapo, one in Yangcheon, one in Nowon, and one in Gangnam. Resource recovery facility is a little bit different from traditional incinerators. Since it recovers heat during the process of burning waste and those recovery facilities provide heating for the neighborhood in the area.

Resource recovery facility is another very good example of joint use of waste treatment facilities among different municipalities. So in the past when it was built, for example Mapo resource recovery facility took waste only from Mapo. But as I explained before the government was promoting regionalization of waste treatment facilities and Seoul Metropolitan Government introduced a law called Co-utilization of Resource Recovery Facilities.

And these days each resource recovery facility is taking waste not only from their own district, but also from other districts as well. That helps to improve the operation rate of the Resource Recovery Center, to enhance the technical and economic efficiency of the Resource Recovery Center facility. Another example is the 50 megawatt landfill gas electricity generation project, at Sudogeun Landfill Site.
So basically this project uses landfill gas to generate electricity and it has a capacity to provide electricity for 43,000 residents. In addition the project has been registered as a CDM project. CDM refers to Clean Development Mechanism. It is one of the flexible mechanisms by the Kyoto Protocol. It means that by being registered as a CDM project you can trade emission reductions achieved through the implementation of projects to other countries or other industries
By having this kind of project, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions and also it reduces the demand for electricity. On the other hand, it also creates a lot of economic benefits as well, as I mentioned before, though the sales of electricity and also through the stages of emission reductions.
And another example where waste has been used as resources is the transformation of closed landfill into ecopark. So you have seen the picture of Nanjido, the big mountain of garbage, but now it has totally different appearance. Nanjido has been transformed into a very popular park in Seoul, and in 2002 to commemorate 2002 World Cup, the area had totally transformed.
After six years of a stabilization and one year of construction, now it consists of five theme parks and it attracts 90 million visitors in total, and it is a very popular landmark in Seoul for renewable energy generation facility as well. In addition the biggest Sudokwon Landfill Site in Korea is under construction to build another ecopark named as Dream Park.
In 2014 Incheon hosted the Asian Game, and many of the games were held on the first closed cell of Sudokwon Landfill Site. So in module three, I have introduced three best practices and policies Seoul metropolitan Government and Ministry of Environment has introduced. The first one was the introduction of Volume-based Waste Fee System, and the second solution was the joint use of waste treatment facilities among municipalities, and third solution was as you see from the title, to use waste as resources.
I would like to wrap up the module three here, and in module four we will review some of the key achievement we have obtained through the introduction of those policies and we'll wrap up with some key lessons we have learned from Seoul’s experience. 

Thank you very much for your attention.