Garbage and Recycling Guide in Korea - IVisitKorea
trash and recycling 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 recycling in Korea rules and regulations by the Korean government.

Garbage & Recycling Guide in Korea

Disposing trash in Korea

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.

Since garbage bags vary from region to region, they should be discarded using garbage bags suitable for the area. However, as an exception, standard garbage bags that can be bought at large discount stores such as E-Mart and Homeplus are available throughout Seoul. Also, 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 bags in Korea

Korea consists of different waste bags for each district like Mapo-gu, Gangnam-gu, Seocho-gu, etc. There is a specific garbage bag holding the name of the district and they may vary in colors according to the district.

In addition, 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. You can easily get them in any of the supermarkets, nearby shopping stores, convenience stores, and marts. Simply ask the seller for any of these, mention the quantity and the size of the bag.

How to recycle waste in Korea

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

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

Different types of plastic can be recycled, that is why there are different types of recycling bins in Korea. 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.

However, there are many cases where there might not be 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, and plastics can be put in one bag.
  • Collect vinyl wrappers together.
  • Put paper recycle together.
  • Recycled waste, general waste, and food waste can all be thrown away at the same time.

Korean recycling symbols

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 the plastic bottles and wash the plastic cases before throwing them away.


Recycled here are soda cans, beer can, 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 by papers. 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.

Food waste 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 as food waste. Things that are not to be considered as food waste are onion skin, garlic skin, shells, tea bags, tea leaves, eggshells, chicken bone, etc.

Furthermore, different sizes of food garbage bags are available. There are different locations and timing according to the district, ask from your nearby officials like the society office, landlord, etc. Try to prevent the food from wastage as this may lead you to pay the tax.

Korea Garbage Fine

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 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 time of discharge 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 to minimize 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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