Plastic remains a major task during the pandemic. The amount of plastic waste saw a 15% on year increase from last year.
Our Kim Yeon-seung went to a recycling center in Seoul to see how plastics should be disposed and what steps people can take for a zero waste lifestyle.
“Experts say that only half of the trash that’s put in recycling bins will actually get recycled. This is largely because many people are not fully aware of the proper way to sort trash.”
“Our family uses a lot more plastic bottles than we did before the pandemic, because we’re at home more. I really wish there weren’t any labels on the plastic bottles, because I have to separate them each by hand. Also, throwing out the different kinds of icepacks is confusing.”
For waste to be properly recycled, it first needs to be separated by material and a lot more should be thrown out as regular waste instead of being put in with the recycling.
“Potato chips tubes and fastfood soda cups are coated with vinyl inside out, so these are not recyclable. And small plastics, like eye drop bottles, straws, pens are difficult to sort and therefore should also go in with the regular waste.”
Food stains should be removed and plastics should be separated by color.
This is because the overall quality is reduced if contaminated or different colored plastics are mixed together when being melted down.
But recycling doesn’t start or end with just consumer effort.
“First, companies need to make recyclable products. They keep using composite materials and different colors, which makes the products difficult to recycle. And then consumers need to sort their waste properly, and then recycling centers also have to sort the trash properly.”
This may seem like a complicated process, but there’s a zero-waste center in Seoul that opened up last Friday to help with the A to Zs of a sustainable lifestyle.
Here, people can learn how to reduce the amount of waste they produce not only by recycling properly, but also by purchasing products that are made with upcycled materials.
And most importantly, the recyclable materials that are thrown away at this upcycling center are guaranteed to be put into good use.
“Here we collect the same materials and send them to companies that upcycle products.”
These plastic bottles are going to be reborn into something beautiful.
Like this bag.
And this is what happens when waste is properly upcycled.
Kim Yeon-seung, Arirang News.