As recycling companies stopped collecting vinyl and Styrofoam waste from Sunday, residents in Seoul and the Seoul metropolitan region are in confusion. Notices reading “vinyl and Styrofoam will not be collected beginning on April 1” have been placed at certain apartment complexes in Seoul and the surrounding Gyeonggi region. Residents are demanding a solution, saying, “It is illegal to put in vinyl waste in authorized garbage bags, and what can we do?”
“The controversy over abrupt suspension of recycling waste collection” comes as China, which was devouring recycling waste from around the world, stopped importing waste from January this year by citing environment and other issues. The price of paper and plastic waste and scrap iron have plunged amid soaring supply as Korean waste recycling companies had no choice but to stop exporting to China, while recycling waste from advanced countries has been imported into Korea. Thus far, waste recycling companies have collected vinyl and Styrofoam waste that is ‘not lucrative’ when collecting paper and plastic waste for recycling. However, they reportedly can no longer afford to collect vinyl and Styrofoam waste, because the costs for collecting these materials far exceed import prices.
As for disposal of recycling waste in Korea, private companies collect recycling waste from houses and apartment complexes, while middlemen categorize and reprocess the waste before selling it to papermakers and steelmakers. Since the government has little room to intervene in the process, it has little control even when the price of recycling waste fluctuates.
Ki-Beom Kwon firstname.lastname@example.org