Recycling can be confusing in any city across the world. We are here to bring clarity to a difficult and confusing procedure, that, once it understood, helps not just the environment, but help you meet the high standards of your landlord.
Korea has a very successful recycling system. But, to see its genius, one must be able to understand it. First of all, you need to separate the basics.
Just like anywhere else, you should try to clean and compress all recycling. Recycling can be placed in any plastic or paper bag, or cardboard box. Trash, on the other hand, should be in official blue or yellow bags. These bags can be bought at almost all grocery and convenience stores. They usually keep them behind the counter. To get one, you can say “May I have the regular trash bag please? Sseulaegi Bongtu ju-se-yo? 쓰 레 기 봉 투 주세요?”
Food waste is the final and most foreign part. Many people keep some sort of compost can, or bag in their homes, but these can attract flies. It is recommended to keep a bag of food waste in one’s freezer. This limits smell and potential to host a fruit fly farm. While it sounds gross at first, it really isn’t that hard to do, and you can designate a part of the freezer for this purpose. If it doesn’t sound good, try purchasing a can with a lid. To get the container for wet food waste, you should say “May I have the wet food trash bag please? Eum-shik-mool Sseulaegi Bongtu ju-se-yo? 음식물 쓰레기 봉투 주세요?” You will need token like objects to go along with your can. Ask your landlord about this or visit your local dong office.
Once everything is separate, then it is time to figure out when and where to put it. Here is a schedule for recycling and trash pick up. This schedule uses the larger dong division system as detailed in our collection of Changwon Dong maps. Refer to there if you don’t know which larger neighborhood you live in.
Where to drop off your trash and recycling depends on the type of building you live in. Apartment complexes (in theory) have an area, usually in or near the parking lot or parking garage, where you can drop these items in appropriate larger containers. Neighborhoods usually have some form of curbside pick-up. The other option is an area that looks like a recycling center.
The last piece of the trash puzzle is large items. If you have furniture, for example, that you cannot find a good home for, the city will collect it, but first you need to buy a sticker from your local dong (neighborhood) office. If you don’t, more than likely your large furniture will have a note from the landlord explaining that they know who you are and saw you on CCTV, so please call the number to buy the sticker to get the furniture removed. The way to do this varies from dong to dong, but this website (http://waste.changwon.go.kr/) makes it easier! click on the second button down on the left hand side and click on your dong (in Korean). Then click foreigners. The rest is in English! Amazing.