A sanitary worker checks a garbage bin with a radio frequency identification tag attached.
/ Courtesy of Ministry of Environment
By Bae Ji-sook
Beginning as early as next year, the use of plastic bags for disposing food waste will be phased out and instead a new scheme using plastic baskets imbedded with electronic chips will be introduced, Seoul City announced, Tuesday.
The accumulated tax or waste disposal fees will be charged monthly alongside electricity, water and other bills so that citizens will not have to continually buy separate bags.
According to the plan, citizens will be required to put their food waste in a plastic basket that has a state-of-the-art radio frequency identification (RFID) tag attached. The RFID will indicate the users' name and residence.
Garbage collectors will pick up the baskets, weigh them and the information will be sent to local administration's main server. They will then return the baskets for reuse.
At the end of every month, the charge for disposal will be added to other public utility bills. Payment can then be made by cash, or credit or transportation card.
At apartment complexes, where access to individual households is more difficult, people will place the waste in a large bin and the total disposal cost will be divided equally.
The exact amount hasn't been decided on yet, but considering the experience of Jeonju, North Jeolla Province, which has already adopted the system, it is expected to be around 30 won per liter for ordinary households and 37 won for commercial facilities.
The baskets will be distributed by local governments - to protect the private information on the RFID chips - with a state-of-the-art ventilator device to lessen any odor.
A pilot test will be run at 8,000 households in Yeongdeungpo this year, before expansion to all 25 districts in the capital next year.
"The RFID will be a big step in the government's campaign to lessen the amount of food waste by 20 percent. Also, with the tags, we will be able to record some statistics on the patterns of waste disposal," Seo Heung-won, an environment ministry official, said. "We are planning to adopt the system nationwide at some point," he added.
According to the ministry, food waste disposal cost 18 trillion won in 2005, and is expected to soar to 25 trillion won by 2012. By pruning it by 20 percent, the administration hopes to save 5 trillion won and prevent 4 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions.