The prestigious bi-annual Waste-to-Energy Research and Technology Council (WTERT) Award of Columbia University’s Earth Engineering Center was awarded to the Republic of Korea for its major advance toward Sustainable Waste Management in the last two decades.
The 2014 Award was presented to representatives of Republic of Korea (ROK) at the 2014 WTERT meeting at Columbia University in New York City and also at the 8th ICIPEC international conference hosted by Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China.
The ROK received this award for implementing, in the period of 1990-2010, a national plan, policies and regulations at municipal level that have advanced waste reduction, recycling, composting, and combustion with energy recovery, and reduced landfilling by two thirds across the nation.
According to an analysis of global waste management data by the Earth Engineering Center of Columbia University, South Korea is at a higher level on the way to sustainable waste management than the U.S.
ROK has attained this level at a GDP per capita that, on a power parity basis, is 63% of the U.S. GDP.
The WTERT Awards were instituted in 2004 to recognise outstanding contributions in advancing sustainable waste management worldwide. Past WTERT Awards were received by:2004: Martin GmbH (Germany); Prof. George Tchobanoglous (USA) 2006: Brescia WTE (Italy); Prof. Paul Brunner (Austria) 2008: Covanta Energy (USA); Inventor Artie Cole (Wheelabrator Technologies; USA) 2010: City of Vienna and Lee County, Florida 2012: Waste Management World magazine, published in association with the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA).
According to a research paper co-sponsored by the Earth Engineering Center of Columbia University, Current MSW Management and Waste-to-Energy Status in the Republic of Korea by Yoonjung Seo, despite growth of per capita GDP of nearly 50%, the generation of MSW decreased from 0.39 tons per capita in 1995 to 0.37 tons in 2009.
The research found that as a result of the implementation of national waste management policies such as the Volume Based Waste Fee (VBWF) system, the Republic of Korea has made great progress in the area of waste management by drastically reducing the MSW landfilled from 12.6 million tons (72%), in 1995, to 3.5 million tons (19%) in 2009.
This was achieved by increasing recycling and composting from 4.1 million tons (24%), in 1995, to 11.4 million tons (61%) in 2009; and increasing capacity of controlled incineration from 0.7 million tons (4%), in 1995, to 3.8 million tons (20%) in 2009.
In 2010 capacity of the 35 waste-to-energy facilities was 3.1 million tons, accounting for 90% of the total amount of controlled incineration in Korea.
Using the R1 factor, as specified in the E.U. legislation, 22 of the 35 Korean WTE plants achieved R1 factors above 0.61, required to qualify as energy recovery plants, rather than “waste disposal facilities”. The average R1 of these 35 WTE plants was 0.59.
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