Risk of Exceeding the Limit1)
A 15-ton trailer truck empties its load, adding to the garbage mountain. These were collected overnight from Seoul, Gyeonggi, and Incheon. About 30,000 tons of trash is dumped daily at a landfill in the capital area. With the amount of garbage increasing daily, the capital area landfill put out an emergency alert. The amount of household waste brought to the capital area landfill exceeded 67% of the target value. In August, the Ministry of Environment and the landfill management corporation for the capital area announced results of an interim inspection of the total garbage carry-in system. The system was adopted last year by the landfill management corporation for the capital area to reduce household waste, and put the law in force since January. Last year, the total carry-in waste was 90% of the total 2018 garbage. By the end of July of this year, it has already reached 67.6% in the capital areas, with 83.3% in Incheon, 69.1% in Seoul, and 60.3% in Gyeonggi province. In addition, 10 of the 58 local governments have already exceeded their limits, and 37 local governments are expected to exceed their limits by the end of the year if the current situation continues. If the situation does not improve, the landfill will fill and there will be no more place to dispose of garbage. The landfill in Incheon has only five years left before it reaches its capacity, but Incheon still has yet to find an alternative site. The Seoul metropolitan government and Gyeonggi province are suggesting that more waste be added to the capacity limit of the landfill, but the Incheon metropolitan government said that it will discontinue use of the landfill once the deadline is reached.
The reason for the garbage surge in the capital area landfill is citizens' increased use of disposable products. Disposable waste from household items has steadily increased in the capital area, reaching 460,000 tons in 2015, 700,000 tons the year before, and 780,000 tons last year. Especially this year, there is the aftereffect of COVID-19. Because of thi, the unit price of recyclables has dropped due to difficulties in delivering recyclables overseas, so more recyclables are being sent to the landfill. According to a waste screening company, "COVID-19 has prevented the delivery of recyclables to China and Europe, so their prices decrease and people who used to pick up recyclables in town don't take recyclables now. That's why more waste comes in." To cope with the situation, the landfill management corporation for the capital area announced that it was planning to notify local governments once they have exceeded their limit for waste over a period of five days and to implement the collection of additional fees for waste removal. In addition, the Ministry of Environment is planning to restrict the total amount of garbage brought in and extend the suspension based on current data. It is also necessary for the government to consider the possibility of 'waste chaos'. Moreover, considering the time crunch for the closing of the existing landfill, the government should quickly come up with an alternative site by the end of the year.
1) Lee Jaemin, "Too Much Trash in the Capital Area…"There’s Nowhere Else To Bury."", MBC News, August 24, 2020