SEOUL, South Korea - As it is expected the Republic of Korea, as a developed industrial country, has undertaken the task of turning waste into energy in the path toward developing green technology. The Mapo Resource Recovery Plant in Seoul is an example in the move toward this cherished goal.
The plant opened in 2005 recycles 650 tons of waste per day. The waste is transported to the facility, burned at extremely high temperatures, and the heat is used to generate energy in the form of electricity or steam.
Bricks are also produced using the ash after the burning of garbage in the plant.
The facility, built on a landfill, is a high technology incineration plant emitting pollution-free gas and providing heating acquired during the process for the 20,000 homes in the Mapo area of Seoul.
Kim Dong Sik, the site manager, showed photos comparing the scenes before and after the construction of the plant.
Now the area has turned into a “green” place.
The visit to the facility was arranged because before my visit to the Republic of Korea I had expressed my keen interest in learning about the Northeast Asian country’s efforts in developing green technology.
In the move toward green movement the Republic of Korea has been pursuing the policy of turning waste into energy and it was the administration of Lee Myung-bak who raised the slogan of "low carbon and green growth". The country has also increased subsidies on developing power generation facilities from waste.
There are four other plants like Mapo in Seoul. The largest one has the capacity to recycle 900 tons of garbage per day and the smallest one 50 tons.
Mr. Kim said 85 percent of the waste produced in the metropolis of Seoul is recycled and the remaining 15 percent is buried.
When I asked Mr. Kim whether there is any plan to recycle the remaining 15 percent, he said fortunately the garbage produced in the city with 11 million population is gradually being decreased and citizens by “separating trash” are helping us to tackle the waste production. He added the capacity of the plants can be increased through modernizing them.
Different delegations from foreign countries including Spain, the Netherlands, China, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Mexico, have visited the site to observe the recycling process. There was also a photo of the incumbent Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and some of his cabinet team who had visited the plant.
As we were seeing the photos of the delegations, Mr. Kim, who had raised the Iranian flag along with the Korean flag as a sign of respect for my visit to the site, showed the photo of an Iranian parliamentary delegation who had inspected the facility as well.
Various kinds of junk arts and outdoor swing toys made from recycled trash are displayed at the plant. The children who were visiting the site to learn how to develop a “green life” were playing with these toys. The statues of animals made from the trash also attracted the attention of visiting children.
When asked about sharing the knowledge in building such plants in other countries, Mr. Kim said an agreement has been signed to build a similar plant in Singapore and negotiations are underway to manufacture a similar one in Malaysia.
What was very exciting at the site was the big statue of a penguin, made from recycled waste, which looks sorrowfully at her offspring as the Antarctic ice is melting due to human-caused global warming. The statue magnificently highlighted the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.