Recycle in secret no more, Jeju, South Korea
How to use the new Clean House recycling centers
Story and photos by Sheila Haab | Translations by Ko Min Hee
A Jeju ‘Clean House’
Normally, I’m not a deceitful person. Even questions that a lady shouldn’t answer, I answer, painfully. I’m 37 unless you mean English age—then I’m 35. Questions that aren’t really questions “How are you?” often end up with an answer—better than yesterday when I almost ate a rotten vegetarian bean sandwich.
But my experience in Jeju has taught me to be furtive. Wait until after dark. Save up and attempt only when impending dinner guests require it. Avoid pleasant nights when scores of locals are strolling along the boardwalk. Wear dark clothes. Slouch. Carry an orange E-mart bag in hand (white bags sometimes gleam). Slip out of the apartment, scurry across the parking lot and surreptitiously begin unloading.
Does that bin have more plastic bottles, styrofoam, or cardboard? Drat! All the containers have cans! Quick! Just dump everything in the empty one. Stuff the orange bag in pants pocket. Try not to whistle while walking away.
Finally! Two months of recyclables are gone. The apartment once again looks like it is inhabited by a human instead of a rodent of unusual size.
Those late night recycling missions are now a thing of the past, thanks to the new “Clean House” recycling program in Jeju-si.
Here’s how it works:
The Jeju-si Clean House household recycling centers are located at major supermarkets around town, including E Mart, and accept all types of common recyclables as well as trash. There are cameras at the centers and there is a fine of up to 1,000,000 won for misuse.
* Hours are from sunrise to midnight, Sunday through Friday. They are closed on Saturdays.
* Green bags (trash) are only allowed on Wednesdays.
* Rinse out all containers.
* For non-recyclables that don’t have a bin, garbage bags may be bought at grocery stores.
* Sort recyclables into the following bag types, also available at grocery stores:
* White Bags (흰색종량제봉투) are for combustibles
* Green Bags (녹색종량제봉투) are for incombustible items
흰 색 종 량 제 봉투함 | bins or specially marked white bags
* Combustible waste includes:
pieces of paper | toilet paper | plastic ramyeon bags/ snack bags | plastic wrappings
캔/고 철/ 플 라 스 틱 류 함
cans | iron | plastic bottles | plastic containers with 분리배 출 on the bottom (but not with the word “other”) | pink plastic egg containers
종 이 류 함
bundled newspaper | bundled cardboard and gray board (example cereal boxes) | spiral notebooks | books | magazines
유 리 병 류 함
녹 색 종 량 제 봉투 bins or specially marked green bags
* Non-combustible waste
broken glass | pottery | metal | toys | styrofoam | ramyeon cup | soft tin foil | pens and pencils
읍 식 물 쓰 레 기 류 함
no sea shells | no large bones | only small amounts of oil
폐 형 광 등
The Clean House recycling centers make it easy to get rid of all household waste in one trip — and I now recycle on sunny days wearing my neon-flowered sweatsuit.