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'The garbage world' changed by COVID-19... "We need your little consideration"

“I have never seen styrofoam stacked like this since the last Chuseok holiday. As soon as it comes in, it is reprocessed and taken out, but it remains the same.”


We interviewed a staff with 10 years of experience at a resource recycling center on April 2nd. Disposable products piled up as piles of piles in outdoor storage have been seldom decreasing in days. In the aftermath of the new Coronavirus Infectious Disease (COVID-19), the use of disposable products such as food and cafés delivered increased, and plastic, PET bottles, and plastics were brought in unreasonably. More than 50 employees working here worked tirelessly, sorting recycled items on the indoor conveyor belt.


The heat combined with the smell of garbage resembled a steamer. In the yard outside the building, 1.5 to 2.5 tons of trucks constantly flowed in and poured out recycled waste. The tongs-shaped fork lane picked up the sorted waste and made it into a solid mass of about 600 kg.

Here, it seemed to see the “garbage world” that COVID-19 had changed. As COVID-19 spreads across the country, workers in the trash industry are wrestling with the dangers of virus exposure while handling massive waste. After using disposable lunch boxes and cups, the number of people who indiscriminately discarded without washing has changed the working environment.


According to the Suwon City Resource Circulation Center, the amount of plastic recycled products (resale after reprocessing) from 1529 tons and 1521 tons in January and February, respectively, surged to 1843 tons last month. The center does not count the amount of recycled garbage carried in, but only the amount of processed and processed waste is statistics. “The hundreds of garbage trucks a day visit here,” said Jang Tae-young, the center's deputy director. “Employees dispose of recycled items during the business hours from 8 am to 5 pm.” Fights with recycled products continued throughout the center. White styrofoam boxes have already been built in the yard behind the main building. The small forklift moved around and started arranging, but it seemed inconvenient. In the large stockyard in front of the center, the fork lane was making a loud noise and was handling wood waste. A representative from the center said, “I knew that the move would become of larger task due to the coronavirus, but I didn't expect the amount of garbage in wood furniture to increase.”


As the COVID-19 crisis prolonged, related industries were also put to a crisis. An official from the center said, “Exports that exported reprocessed disposable waste to China and other countries (with the prohibition of imports from each country) have blocked exports.”

The biggest problem is the exposure of center employees to infections caused by food waste. Hwang In-cheol, head of the Suwon City Resource Circulation Center, said, “Foods that have been deposited on disposable items for delivery lunches often splash out to employees during each reprocessing process."

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