South Korea Fines Food Waste

South Korea established fines for throwing away food

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That’s horrible on so many levels.


I disagree, it is awesome. One reason why I drink 2.0, no waste, I recycle the whole bottle and cap.

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I agree, it’s sad that such measures are even necessary. There’s nothing fun about global warming and no honor in doing just enough to survive :confused:

When I lived in Portland OR, we were supposed to separate out food waste as well. It was sent to a composting facility. We didn’t have to pay for the food waste, although there was a fine if we failed to separate it out (the fine was generally not enforced, mostly just used as a threat to encourage people to do the separating).

I’m OK with this policy.

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I find the idea of recycling on the individual level so ludicrously inefficient that it boggles my mind. Compare this practice with just about any other mass effect phenomenon and it just doesn’t scale. Why the emphasis on separation and recycling isn’t shifted to the waste disposal industry, I don’t know. They do separation, but it is still expected that people dig through their own trash and separate things into different categories.

If individual recycling made a significant impact and was critically necessary in the short term (i.e. the concern over dwindling landfill area) there might be some argument for it. The thing is, it doesn’t. There are a few sources for this, but an entertaining one is this Penn & Teller BS: Recycling.

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Recycling inefficient? Well, here’s one data point: In my city 90% of all trash is being diverted into one or another of the recycling programs, and only 10% is going into landfill. Considering the landfill is miles distant and trash has to be trucked there, that’s an energy saving right there.

A large part of the recent improvement in diversion rates is the city-wide food scraps recycling program. Everybody got a cute little food scraps can for our kitchens, and it’s really easy to make sure all the peelings and scrapings and cores etc. go into that can, and that into the big green curbside bucket. The garbage trucks that come by weekly have robot arms that pick up the green can (garden waste + food scraps: compostable), the blue can (paper, metal, glass) and the black can (the remarkably small amount of residue) and dump them into different compartments in the truck.

The trucks go off to a recycling center that multiple local cities went together to create, here’s its annual report (PDF). Those numbers (45% diversion) are lower because the city keeps back the organics for its own big compost heap on several acres of city-owned ground.

Anyway, depending on where you live, and how involved the citizens get, “waste diversion” (from landfill to more productive destinations) works very well and is a net saving for taxpayers.


I seem to recall Penn & Teller did a BS show on 2nd hand cigarette smoke as well.

The Union of Concerned Scientists published a small book years ago detailing personal choices that could maximally benefit the environment and yeah, recycling wasn’t really high on the list (compared to gasoline, electricity and meat consumption)… but still.

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I watched that Penn and Teller video a while back, and some of it was bizarrely stupid. E.g., they suggested that recycling paper is anti-environmental, because you need trees to have paper, so using more paper will mean growing more trees. This is a stupid argument because it implies that only by cutting trees down will you ever grow any, when in reality, the option can often be to let national forests stay pristine, or cut them every 20 years to feed the paper mills. With that choice, recycling paper becomes clearly an environmentally friendly choice.


I recall the issue being with the chemicals that they have to use to treat the recycled paper for reuse. Those chemicals represented more waste and pollution than the quantities of paper they were used to treat overall.


This is a fair point, but not all paper recycling requires those chemicals and it is very simply the cheapest method. It’s a “problem” that can be solved by spending more money, which I realize none of us ever want to hear…

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You raise probably the most compelling point. As long as the same product costs less to produce new rather than use recycled products, recycling will continue to be a “fad” for people with excess time and money.

The government takes taxpayer money to force them to sort their trash, then fines them for failing to do so. The machines they have to take the trash out to, the electricity that powers it & the people who operate them are also paid by the tax payers. They’re essentially billing people to take away their freedom to do what they want with their own property.

And it can easily be circumvented by taking food waste, putting it in a blender & pouring it in the toilet. Like any other government-run system, it’s needlessly complex, punishing & easily broken.


These attributes are not exclusive to or inherent in government projects, but in this case it’s certainly within the realm of possibility. The complexity of the issue makes it hard to ascertain if more is gained than lost.

Flushing waste might work, but it will demand a bit more from sewage plants. On the other hand South Korea gains energy from the waste. But they lose energy transporting the waste. It really is a complex issue.

ehhh that was not my point. “New” is a fairly subjective term especially in regards to the logging industry. It isn’t cheaper if the environmental cost is the same. Recycling methods need improving because there is a very limited supply of “new” in this world.

[quote=“sylass94, post:14, topic:27085”]Flushing waste might work, but it will demand a bit more from sewage plants. On the other hand South Korea gains energy from the waste. But they lose energy transporting the waste. It really is a complex issue.[/quote]My point was that if I were an SK citizen I’d flush the waste to subvert their entire process so I’d never have to pay their stupid fine. I never meant to imply it was a good way of disposing of waste…

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You would try to flush any kind of food waste, no matter how dense or dry, and risk damaging your own pipes… to send a message?

You’ve got dedication, I’ll give you that

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Blender. Water. 3" pipes. Not a hard problem.

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You ever heard of a garbage disposal?


I don’t think the argument was inherently “stupid”. I think one of the major arguments is that for every tree cut down two are planted, so by having a healthy paper industry we have a more sustainable and healthy forest.

I’m not asking you to agree with this idea, and I personally don’t know enough about it. But the truth is that there is a thoughtful argument about healthy logging industries actually help the environment.

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