Today I finally had success! When I first lived in Korea I hated to separate the trash and I didn’t know how so I decided to put my trash out at night in separate bags. No one ever explained to me that the trash would later have to be separated.  I was a bit embarrassed after seeing my landlord opening up my trash and looking through it. Yes, the trash with the English writing on it is mine and only mine! It was obvious, and so to save myself from embarrassment I decided to finally learn how to throw my trash away in Seoul properly. Last month I purchased the 일반쓰레기봉투 (general trash bags), but then realized last week that there is a different bag for food 음식물쓰레기봉투(food waste bag). Today, though, after success I purchased them both!

How to purchase trash bags in Seoul Every city in Seoul has a different trash collection system, so go into your local grocery store(C Space Store carries these garbage bags) and ask 쓰레기 봉투를 파세요? (Do you sell garbage bags?) If not, ask the name of the store that carries them 어디서 살 수 있어요? 가게 이름 어떻게 돼세요? (Where can I buy them ? What is the name of the store?) These may be a bit awkward, but they got me to the right source of buying my trash bags.You must pay in cash for your trash bags and they are pretty cheap. 20 5-liter bags cost about 2천원 ($2) so they are pretty cheap. I misread the sign and thought they would be more, so I was quite relieved to see they didn’t cost that much.

How to separate your trash 분리수거하다 There are three categories of trash: general trash (일반쓰레기), food waste (음식물), and recyclable waste (재활용품). General trash includes items like tissues, tea bags, cotton balls, bones, etc. Food waste includes all food like oranges, leftover ramen, etc. Recyclable waste includes paper, newspaper, plastic (베트병PET bottles, large juice or water containers), ramen containers, yogurt containers, glass, etc. A fourth category, not-mentioned, is used clothing and  I am not exactly sure where this goes but I believe there is a used clothing bin.I have discovered green bins (that look like American mail drop boxes) in my neighborhood and it has the word “의류함” which means clothing. You can dump your used articles of clothing in these salvation army-like bins.

Be sure to separate your trash carefully because you could be fined. Also, the food apparently is sent to farmers as animal feed so be sure to make the piggies happy.

Below are some phrases and words about trash that might help you figure out how to take care of your 쓰레기! Woohoo!

수거 收去  to pickup

분리수거하다 to separate trash

쓰레기 수거차 garbage truck

월수금마다 쓰레기 수거차가 온다 the garbage truck comes every Mon, Weds, Fri.

배출하다 to discard

수거함 collection bin

의류 clothing (this is written on used clothing bins)

쓰레기 봉투를 파세요? Do you sell trash bags?

Note from my landlord 안내 Notice

  • 일반 쓰레기 및 음식물은 반드시 전용봉투를 사용하셔서 분리 배출하시기 바랍니다.
  • General trash & food waste should be separated in the appropriate bag.
  • 재활용품 (플라스틱, 알미늄, 비닐, 종이류 등)은 현관 안 쪽 수거함에 버려주시기 바랍니다.
  • Please leave your recyclable materials (plastic, aluminum, plastic bags, recyclable paper) in the from entrance collection bin.

구분                 수거일                    봉투

1. 일반쓰레기     화,목, 일 저녁       쓰레기전용봉투

2. 음식물             화,목, 일 저녁       음식물전용봉투

3. 재활용품        매일