Korea Expat BLog

Garbage Recycling

South Korea is a small twitch of land – especially for strangers from China, Russia, Australia and Northern America – occupying lower half of a small Peninsula from South-East China, extending towards the slighty larger Japan islands as a whole . more-over a large populace live in mighty concentrated geographical areas, overtly around Metropolitan SEOUL . and thus much alike neighboring Japan, the regional “Gu” Office over-looks garbage retrieval and recycling rules since the nation started developing in 1980’s .

administrative areas in South Korea is divided first into “Do”, then “Eup”, then “Ri”. apart from this : larger cities which is contained within “Do” except metropolis including SEOUL, inCheon, DaeGu and Busan or Pusan – are divided into “Gu”, then “Dong”. 

so although the general rule is common, specifics on retrieval hours and dates of the Week, differ among its larger administrative office, which the “Gu” office in larger cities .

[ SEPARATELY RETRIEVED GARBAGE ] meaning disposable garbage is collected separately, and here is basically those that require pre-paid plastic bags, purchased at a near-by convenience store or general market . larger super-marts carry them too near the payment counter, but make sure you choose the one for your district for they usually carry for several in their vicinity .

  • general garbage bags in pale-white color, are sold in 10, 20, 30, 50 and 100 liters, where 20L is the most common roughly the size of a domestic kitchen garbage can . 50 and 100L are used when you have left-overs from moving or re-modeling your home
  • left-over food is the most messy because stray cats come at night to scavenge what ever . but two types of retrival differing upon region


  • metropolitan regions usually use another form of plastic bags in same size increments as ‘general garbage bags’, but perhaps in differing color like dim blue/purple or orange, and will have clear ‘food’ in Korean printed on it,
  • rural areas may use re-usable plastic containers, which can be firmly closed (again against alley cats) roughly the size of a large orange juice jar . this is usually sold at the regional administration office .


[ RECYCLED ITEMS ] these are left at the same collection site as garbage above BUT each of the following separated in different baskets, re-used .

  • paper including cardboard boxes,
  • vinyl plastic wrappers separated from silver/metalic foil wrappers,
  • plastic bottles and containers
  • glass bottles (light bulbs and broken glass to be disposed as “general garbage”)


[ SPECIAL ITEMS ] some are collected above, while some are treated uniquely .

  • electric bulbs and window glass whether broken or NOT : should be thrown away as “normal” garbage .
  • all kinds of batteries working or NOT : to be taken to regional administrative Office OR Post Office .
  • used clothing are supposed to be taken to the regional administrative Office, but depending on the area : you can leave it on your collection site and people would take it away .



– a manic recycler, Korea Expat BLog –

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