Trashy tourism

In Korea, plans are being made to turn landfill sites into tourist attractions for the region.

Waste to Energy Biological Treatment Landfill

In Korea, plans are being made to turn landfill sites into tourist attractions for the region. The landfill sites will become a waste-to-energy facility, a biomass complex, solar and wind generation plants and an educational environment and culture facility.

by Yoon-Hee Kim

The landfill sites will be developed and used for the 2014 Icheon Asian Games.

In July 2000, the Sudokwon Landfill Site Management Corporation (SLC) was established as a national body affiliated with the Korean Ministry of Environment, to manage the landfill site serving the capital region of Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi – in a systematic and environmentally sound way. The site deals with the landfill waste of 22 million residents and was previously managed by three local governments from 1992.

Since its establishment, SLC has focused on the development of waste treatment technologies that will enable it to manage the capital's landfill site in more systematic and sanitary manner. This has included research that has led to patents on leachate treatment technology, landfill technology and more. By partnering environmentally-sound management with advanced technology, the odour generated by the site has been greatly reduced, creating a more pleasant living environment for local residents.

Landfill gas to energy

The landfill gas power plant in operation at Sudokwon is the world's largest. It has a capacity of 50 MW and provides power to approximately 180,000 households in the region. It is powered using landfill gas from the first landfill site which is now closed, plus the newer operational site, which amounts to 790,000 m3 per day. The SLC achieves $38 million profit per year by selling the power generated at this site. As a side Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project SLC will receive the first batch of CER (Certified Emission Reduction credits) – 420,000 CO2 tons – for the amount of greenhouse gas reduced in April 2010.

A new identity

In 2004, the SLC made plans for an environmental theme park called 'Dream Park' on the whole area of the landfill. On the first landfill site which was closed in October 2000, sports facilities such as a soccer field, a basketball stadium, and tennis courts were formed, along with an eco park containing a wildflower complex and a wetland observation zone. On top of the site, a public golf course (36 holes) was created. By providing local residents with these spaces for relaxation and enjoyment, the SLC is changing their view of the landfill and showing them that the landfill is not an abominable facility. Now, people are beginning to see Sudokwon landfill site, not as a NIMBY (Not in my backyard) facility, but a PIMFY (Please, in my front yard) facility, of which the local area can be proud.

Plans for the future

With the motto 'waste is a resource', SLC is planning to convert waste to energy and develop the landfills into one of the world's leading eco tourism attractions. As each of the remaining three landfill sites are filled and closed (by 2028) they will be followed by more and more tourist attractions, turning a site shunned by many into an eco-park filled with life.

Construction of Sudokwon Environmental Energy Town

As there is a goal to convert all waste that it is possible to convert to energy by 2020, SLC has planned for the landfill to become a waste-to-energy facility. To achieve this, it is forming Sudokwon Environmental Energy Town, under the four banners of 'Waste-to-energy town', 'Bio energy town', 'Solar and wind energy town' and 'Environmental & culture complex', on the third and fourth landfills. This will require an investment of $873 million for the first stage, and the project will continue until 2013.

The Sudokwon landfill receives CER credits under the CDM scheme.

Waste-to-energy town is an integrated complex of facilities that use waste to produce energy. Here, the plan is to install RDF production facilities, C&D waste-to-energy facilities and sewage sludge utilization facilities. Bio energy town is a 3.05 million m2 complex for the production of biomass (from poplar trees, etc.) and bio-diesel (from canola, etc.). Here, the plan is to produce 3.85 tons (3.5 tonnes) of wood chips (dry) and 150 tons (136 tonnes) of bio-diesel per year. In Solar and wind energy town, the plan is to install solar and wind energy generation plants in a space of 1.14 million m2, which will produce 30 MW of electric power, as an example of natural energy generation technology. In the Environment & culture complex, the plan is to build facilities to develop, exhibit, educate and promote waste-to-energy and the related technologies until 2016.

When Sudokwon Environmental Energy Town is completed, it can be expected to produce energy amounting to 2.61 million Gcal per year, which will replace 1.92 million barrels of crude oil per year. Furthermore, it is expected to contribute to the prevention of global warming by reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 1.2 million tons (1.1 tonnes) per year. In addition, the amount of waste sent to landfill will be reduced by 61.8% through waste-to-energy, which will extend the landfill lifespan by approximately 55 years.

The future of Sudokwon landfill site

After completing the landfill on the vast landfill site of 20 million m2, it will be transformed into a beautiful eco-park. Notably, it has been decided that the golf, swimming and equestrian events of the 2014 Incheon Asian Games will be held in the Sudokwon landfill site, and the stadiums for the swimming and equestrian events are currently under construction.

Yoon-Hee Kim is the head of Green Tech Research Centre
Email: hah501@empal.com

Kyoto protocol and the CDM

The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is an arrangement under the Kyoto Protocol allowing industrialized countries with a greenhouse gas reduction commitment (called Annex One countries) to invest in ventures that reduce emissions in developing countries as an alternative to more expensive emission reductions in their own countries.

The CDM allows net global greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced at a much lower global cost by financing emissions reduction projects in developing countries where costs are lower than in industrialized countries. The CDM allows emission-reduction projects in developing countries to earn CER credits, equivalent to one tonne of CO2. These CERs can be traded, and used by industrialized countries to a meet their emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

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