Garbage and Recycling Guide in Korea

Garbage and Recycling Guide in Korea

In Korea, the government has specific conditions and penalties for trash and recycling. So, this post will help inform you of the garbage disposal and recycling in Korea rules and regulations by the Korean government.

Total guide to garbage disposal & recycling in Korea

General garbage 일반쓰레기

The trash in Korea is thrown away using biodegradable bags. Anything that can be burned in fire is thrown away inside the bags. Make sure to throw away the proper products and recycle the ones you cannot.

mapogu standard garbage bag
Seoul Mapo-gu standard garbage bag

Since garbage bags vary from region to region, for each district like Mapo-gu, Gangnam-gu, Seocho-gu, etc. they should be discarded using garbage bags suitable for the area. There is a specific garbage bag holding the name of the district and they may vary in colors according to the district.

However, as an exception, standard garbage bags that can be bought at large supermarkets such as E-Mart and Homeplus are available throughout Seoul. At the cash counter of Emart, you have an option to buy a general garbage bag or reusable bag. General garbage bags can be used throughout Seoul, and reusable bags can be refunded by bringing them back to E-Mart next time. 🙂

garbage bag from supermarket
Yellow reusable bag from Emart and general garbage bag

Where to buy garbage bags in Korea

You can easily get garbage bags in any of the supermarkets, nearby shopping stores, convenience stores, and marts. One thing you need to know before purchase is that there are three types of bin bags. The first category is the garbage bags, the second is the recycle bags, and the third is the food waste garbage bags. There are different sizes and pricing varies according to the size. Normally I use 10L or 20L garbage bags at home and 2L or 5L food waste bags. Simply ask the seller for any of these, and mention the quantity and the size of the bag.

where to buy garbage bags in Korea

How to ask for garbage bags

  • 일반 쓰레기 봉투 있어요? ( Do you have general garbage bags? )
  • il-ban sseu-le-gi bong-tu iss-eo-yo?
  • 음식물 쓰레기 봉투 있어요? ( Do you have food waste bags? )
  • eum-sig-mul sseu-le-gi bong-tu iss-eo-yo?

After you ask if they have it available, they will ask you the size. So, you can simply answer like 10L (sib-liter-yo) or 5L (o-liter-yo).

Garbage disposal time

This is very important in Korea. Trash must be disposed of on the day and time of the week. Otherwise, there will be a fine of less than 1 million won, so you must check the date and day of the week used in the garbage bag before throwing it away.

Garbage disposal time differs depending on the type of house you live in and the area where you live. For apartments or studio flats like 오피스텔 in Korea, normally there is a separate, underground garbage disposal place, so you can ask the building manager where it is. In the case of villa types, there is a garbage disposal place outside the building. If you live in a detached house, put them in front of the house on the day and time you can check on the standard garbage bags.

Mapo-guSun. Mon. Tue. Wed. Thu.20:00 – 24:00
Gangnam-guMon. Tue. Wed. Thu. Fri.20:00 – 05:00
Jung-guMon. Tue. Wed. Thu. Fri. Sat.19:00 – 24:00
Yongsan-guSun. Mon. Tue. Wed. Thu. 18:00 – 24:00

Recycling trash

recyling guide in Korea

Some people find it hectic when it comes to recycling in Korea, but you’ll get the hang of it quickly.

There are many cases where there might not be separate recycling bins in detached houses and villas. In those cases, follow the below recycling rules.

  • Recycled waste can be put in a regular transparent bag (not a standard plastic bag).
  • Generally, bottles, cans, plastics, and PET can be put together in one bag.
  • Collect vinyl wrappers together.
  • Put paper, and cardboard together.
  • Recycled waste, general waste, and food waste can all be thrown away at the same time.

Korean recycling symbols

Recycling Boxes
[ Can / Bottle / Plastic / Paper, Source: Gimcheon City ]

For apartment types of residence, you will see different types of recycling bins. So, we need to divide the material into six different categories. The recycle bins have symbols representing different types of waste products. Dump the waste in these recycle bins accordingly.

There are 6 recycling symbols in Korea. Each category consists of different dustbins.

Korea Recycling Images
[ Glass / PET / Can / Plastic / Paper / Styrofoam ]


This category contains around 97% of plastic bottles. Plastic, as we all know, can be recycled for a long time. Products like milk jugs, shampoo bottles, plastic bins, and shower soaps can be recycled here. Also, it is good etiquette to smash and peel off the sticker label from the plastic bottle and wash the plastic cases before throwing them away.


Recycled here are soda cans, beer cans, and anything made from aluminum or iron.


You can recycle beer bottles, wine bottles, and other glass products here.


Recycled here are paper boxes, packaging, newspapers, calendars, and anything made of paper. Usually, Koreans have three or four days a week to throw away the products outside.


Usually, next to the plastic recycle bins are vinyl recycling. Any wrappers, snack bags, and dessert wraps are placed here. Make sure to wash it once if dirty.


Recycled here are styrofoam boxes, styrofoam packaging, and other products made of styrofoam.


Some products like furniture, mattress, tables, computers, etc. can only be recycled by paying a small fee. If you speak to the maintenance officer, they will let you know how to pay if you want to throw away these big products.

How to throw food waste in Korea

food waste bags in Korea

Special biodegradable bags for food waste are available in the markets. Food waste includes anything edible. So, anything that can be eaten by an animal is considered to be food waste. Not to be considered food waste are onion skin, garlic skin, shells, tea bags, tea leaves, eggshells, chicken bone, etc.

how to throw food waste in Korea
Food waste bin

If you find this kind of food waste bin in front of the house or villa outside, put food waste bags into it. It’s for preventing odor.

Furthermore, different sizes of food garbage bags are available, from 1L to 5L. You can dispose of it on the same day to throw down general & recycling garbage. Try to prevent the food from wastage as this may lead you to pay the tax.

How to throw away electronics in Korea

how to throw electronics in korea
Free Electronics Pick-up Service in Korea

Good news! Korea Electronics Recycling Cooperation provides a free pick-up service for electronics such as TV, refrigerator, washing machine, microwave, and air conditioners. Visit and make a reservation. Otherwise, just call 1599-0903 if you have any questions. Here you can check the full list of electronics that are available to pick up. In terms of small electronics like hairdryers, toasters, rice cookers, and vacuum cleaners, the number of products should be 5 or more.

How to throw away furniture in Korea

In the case of furniture or oversized trash like a suitcase, cycle, drying rack, and baby carriage, you have to pay an additional fee to dispose of it. Since each area of Seoul has a different discharge method, we recommend that you visit the website and check it out. In most cases, you directly apply for discharge online, pay for it, and then take it out, then they collect it in a few days.

Some districts of Seoul have a mobile application to throw away oversized trash. It’s easy to use.

  1. Download the app
  2. Select product categories
  3. Put address and discharge date
  4. Then pay.
how to throw oversized trash in Korea
Yeogiro – Oversized waste discharge app

Appstore | Google Play | Website

Yeogiro (여기로) is available in Seongdong-gu, Gangdong-gu, Jongno-gu, and Dongdaemoon-gu districts of Seoul.

how to throw furniture in korea
Beggi – Oversized waste discharge app

Appstore | Google Play | Website

Beggi (빼기) is available in Mapo-gu, Seoul.

For other districts of Seoul, click the button to apply and pay to throw oversized trash.

How to throw away clothes in Korea

how to throw clothes in Korea
Clothe/Shoe dumpster in Korea

You can easily find these green dumpsters in every neighborhood in Seoul. As this box is for donation purposes, please put clothes, shoes, bags, blankets, and curtains that can be reused. Do not throw cotton-stuffed winter blankets, pillows, cushions, or suitcases.

Korea Garbage Fine

The garbage/recycling rule in Korea is very strict. So check the guide on the garbage bags before you throw any of them away. Here are some of the rules for general garbage:

  • You are not allowed to put in recyclable products (paper, glass bottles, cans, plastics and etc.).
  • Make sure to keep the trash bag until the designated time of discharge.
  • If you violate the discharge time or do not use an official designated trash bag, you can be imposed up to 1 million Korean won in fines.
  • When you are disposing of large household wastes such as furniture, home appliances, etc., please make sure to contact a professional cleaner.
  • The price of the trash bag includes waste disposal costs.

The scheme owned by Korea is brilliant for minimizing trash and food wastage. There are many things to keep in mind while throwing the garage in Korea. But remember, this is only for the betterment of our ecological system.

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