In Korea, food waste, general waste and recyclable materials need to be separated. The system enables the reduction of general waste and cleaner environment. Standard Plastic Garbage Bags are used to separate the food waste and the general waste. Let’s find out how to dispose the garbage in Korea.

Garbage Bag in South Korea

Standard Plastic Garbage Bags

There are two types of standard plastic garbage bags as follows. No standard plastic bags are used for recycling materials.

  • Food Waste: semi-transparent yellow plastic bag (different colored bags can be used in some different areas such as reddish color)
  • General Waste: semi-transparent white plastic bag (different colored bags can be used in some different areas such as blue bag)

The standard plastic garbage bags can be purchased at nearest supermarkets and convenient stores. Different district (gu) uses different bags. Therefore, you may have a different garbage bag from what your friend has. And also the price for the garbage bag would be different for each district and cities.

Volume for the Standard Plastic Garbage Bags

  • General Waste (in liter): 5, 10, 20, 50, 75, 100
  • Food Waste (in liter): 1.5, 2.5, 5, 10

Places for Dumping the Garbage

  • In front of the main gate if you are living in an individual house
  • Specified location with garbage receptacles if you are living in an apartment or villa

Time of Dumping and Collecting the Waste

  • Time specified for dumping and collecting the waste is different in each areas
  • You need to ask it to the apartment management office or relevant district office

What is general waste?

  • It is waste items exclusive of food waste and recycling materials
  • It is also waste item such as furniture

What is large waste item?

  • It is waste that cannot fit into the standard plastic garbage bags.
  • It can be furniture, electric appliances, bedding, sofa, table, etc.

How to throw away the large waste items

  • You need to buy a specific sticker certificate from a district office or dong office and discharge the large waste item with attaching the sticker certificate outside of the building or house.
  • The apartment management office could have the sticker certificate you can buy.
  • The price of the sticker varies depending on the size of the large waste items.
  • Each district office charges different prices for the sticker.

What is food waste?

  • It is the remaining part of food to be disposed after cooking or passing the expiration date.
  • Please refer to the items not allowed as food waste below.
Item Note
  • Hand shells such as shells of walnuts, chestnuts, peanuts, acorns, coconuts
  • Seeds of drupes such as apricots, persimmons
  • Bones and feathers
  • Shells of clam, turban shell, abalone, ark shell, sea squirt, lobster
  • Internal organs of globe fish
  • Tea bags, grounds of herbal medicine

How to do the recycling

  • Divide the recycling materials by type in an ordinary plastic bag. The standard garbage bag is not required for recycling.
  • Collecting day is different for each areas and apartment buildings.
  • Please refer to the type of recycling materials below.
Materials Recyclable Items
Paper Newspapers, books, notes, wrapping paper, corrugated cardboard, paper bags, paper boxes
Glass Beer bottles, liquor bottles, soda beverage bottles
Metal Beverage cans, spray cans, butane gas containers, aluminum, stainless utensils, steal tools, iron wire
Styrofoam Safety packages for household electrical appliances, etc. delivery containers for fresh fish or fruit, clean instant noodle containers
Plastics Items indicated as “PET”, “HIPE”, “LDPE”, “PP”, “PS”, “PVC”
Milk cartons Milk cartons
Fluorescent lamps Unbroken fluorescent lamps or bulbs

We hope information provided above can help you when you dispose the garbage in Korea. Beside disposing the garbage, many foreigners can have difficulties to understand the electricity charge in Korea. For the information about electricity charge, please see our other post here, How to calculate your electricity charges in Korea.