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Recycle in secret no more, Jeju, South Korea

12 December 2008 6 Comments

How to use the new Clean House recycling centers
Story and photos by Sheila Haab | Translations by Ko Min Hee
Jeju 'Clean House' recycling centers
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

Combustibles along with cans, metals and plastics. Note the colored lids

종 이 류 함

bundled newspaper | bundled cardboard and gray board (example cereal boxes) | spiral notebooks | books | magazines

유 리 병 류 함
Glass bottles

Paper and glass bottle bins

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
Food Waste

no sea shells | no large bones | only small amounts of oil

의 류

Food waste and unwanted clothes

폐 형 광 등
Light Bulbs

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.

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  • s said:


  • Justin Nalepa said:

    Hahaha oh my god, its so true. Thanks for the article, very helpful to someone like me who has no idea what to do with the piling empty cans and bottles in my apartment. Orange E-mart bags…classic.

  • Susie the Great said:

    sheila haab – you are brilliant!!!

  • tokki2cut said:

    yeah white Lotte mart bag is too gleam -_-;;

    I think the Clean house system in Jeju is well received amongst local people.

    In large apartment complex (especially in Seoul), should be very careful when guys dump, because video surveillance might be active to detect category violation -_-;; (e.g., dumping plastic bags into paper bin).

  • Dave Snapp said:

    Shelia I am so very impressed with your literary talent! Very well done and informative as well. Good job! Ya did good kid!

  • John Foster said:

    This video was made by students at Halla Elementary in Jeju Do, South Korea.


    Feel free to share this video with friends.


    John Foster

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