Past, present and future of waste management in Korea

Won Seok Yang, Jun Kyung Park, Se Won Park, Yong Chil Seo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


In the history of waste management in Korea, systematic and integrated management started in the middle of the 1980s with the establishment of the Waste Management Law. By enforcing several specialized, discrete acts under this basic law and imposing extended producer responsibility as well as a volume-based garbage rate system based on the concept of polluter payment, waste management has become more effective for both general household waste and industrial hazardous/massive waste. The management mainly involves not only a reduction in waste generation, but also appropriate treatment and maximum recycling of the waste. Recent policy trends have focused on converting wastes into resources, and these have led to the implementation of “waste to energy and resources” and a “sustainable and circulation society” in the present and future plans for waste management. A new law called “Promotion Law for Achieving a Resource Circulation Society” meant to replace the basic law and to create a platform of resource circulation, is currently under review. This law integrates all the existing laws and acts to utilize waste more efficiently as a resource, and it has the potential to significantly reduce the amount of wastes landfilled. Details of the history and background of previous waste management efforts, recent movements and current status, and future pathways for achieving a resource circulation society are introduced. This could promote the establishment of a zero waste society and also extend the life of waste landfill facilities in Korea.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-217
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Material Cycles and Waste Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Apr 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, Springer Japan.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Mechanics of Materials


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