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harbor, on the southwest coast of Seoul. On board were 51 containers of mixed waste that South Korean company Green SoKo had exported to the Philippines last year.
The company had claimed the waste was recyclable plastic, but most of it was not in fact recyclable an
d had been strewn over a 45,000 square meter patch (almost 500,000 square feet) of Mindanao island.
Locals discovered that the trash included household garbage, used diapers, empty ca
ns of ham, and washing machine parts. Protests by environmental group EcoWaste Coalition put pressure on the South Korean govern
ment to take back the trash.What that container ship brought back to Seoul, however, was only a fraction of the 290
,000 tons of waste which South Korean Customs estimates was illegally exported in 2018.
A report released last month by the Ministry of Environment
blamed the problem on the lack of affordable alternatives for disposing of solid waste.
”The cost of incineration used to be $53 per ton and now it’s over $230. The waste comp
anies cannot recycle or incinerate (affordably), so the waste is left abandoned,” ministry officials said at a briefing.