Find out how South Korea went from recycling 2% of its food waste to 95%

Organic waste containerOrganic waste container. Image: Gary Perkin Shutterstock

In South Korea, the dishes are usually very large, so food waste is also usually very large and causes many problems. Faced with this problem, the Korean government has set up a program that has made it possible to recover this waste.

The world tour is wasted 1.3 billion tons of food per year. According to data from the World Economic Forum, there is an urgent need to transform the food system by 2030.

The measurement consists of removing approximately 20 million tons food waste only. It is estimated that the waste represents more than 130 kilos per person per year.

South Korea is an example for the world. It currently recycles 95% of food waste. The measures adopted to solve the problem are varied. In 2005 dumping food in landfills was banned. In 2013, the government made food recycling mandatory.

Food waste recycling machines in Seoul.Image: © revi Wikimedia Commons

They also took the following actions:


Radio frequency identification card.

It is used to deposit waste in a smart container. It is weighed and recorded in the user’s account. Users pay at the end of the month and the more scraps they deposit, the more they pay. to exist 6000 containers in all the countries.

With the use of automatic payment machines, food waste in the city has been reduced by 47,000 tonnes in six yearsaccording to municipal authorities.

Prepaid garbage bags.

The amount to be paid will depend on the residual volume. The bags are expressly designed for recycling. 10 liters of waste can cost less than a dollar.

Bar code.

Waste is placed in containers for composting. Attached to the container are the stickers with barcodes used as a means of payment.

The collection of bags covers 60% of the operating cost of the program. Program residuals are used as fertilizer and animal feed.

How is food waste treated in South Korea?

Sorting by type of wasteSeparation by type of waste. Image: Kali Antye Shutterstock

Once the waste is deposited in the biodegradable bags, the humidity is eliminated. To do this, a processing plant is used which presses them and in the process, biogas and organic oil.

Once dry, the waste is used to fuel a government program called city farms. It consists of promoting urban agriculture and the composters fed with this waste.

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