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Municipal Waste Incineration Opportunities in Korea
Korea has made great strides toward recovery since the on-set of the financial crisis in December, 1997. After stabilizing its foreign exchange reserves, the Korean Government (ROKG) then put together a comprehensive strategy to restructure almost every sector of the economy. To stimulate the domestic engineering and construction industries, President Kim, Dae Jung’s administration plans to eliminate various regulations or institutional barriers as soon as possible and already has submitted reform legislation to the National Assembly. In tandem support, the ROKG continues to make substantial investments to expand Korea’s commitment to the environment. In line with Korea’s continued emphasis to protect the environment, central and local governments still plan to invest heavily in municipal waste incineration, river clean-up, source water preservation and other environmental projects. According to industry sources, these projects have excellent prospects of being funded and completed, and domestic environmental companies will continue to need the latest technology, much of which can come from the U.S., in order to move up the value-added chain.

Korea’s municipal solid waste management in the past has relied heavily on use of landfills, with disposal by incineration amounting to about seven percent of the total volume of municipal solid waste treated in 1997 (the latest year for which official statistics are available). The ROKG plans to expand its incineration program nation-wide to 20 percent by 2001 and this new demand for leading technology offers good opportunities for U.S. environmental companies. Under its new long-term plan, the government’s future strategy is oriented toward building integrated waste management systems (IWMS) by giving top priority to recycling and incineration.

According to MOE sources in the Waste Facilities and Sewage Divisions, Korean consumers and industry generated 194,700 tons of solid waste per day on average in 1997. This figure includes 47,900 tons of municipal solid waste and 146,800 tons of industrial solid waste. Further, Korea generated in 1997 about 1.3 million tons of sewage sludge, 77 percent of which was disposed of at landfills. Given the magnitude of the problem, the ROKG will require, beginning January 1, 2001, that only bottom ash generated at incineration plants be buried in landfill sites. And, in a major policy shift also designed to protect the country’s environment, the Korean government now intends to expand its use of incineration for disposal since the nation’s waste is reaching critical levels and it is extremely difficult to find adequate landfill sites in densely-populated Korea. According to MOE officials, although total investment in municipal solid waste incineration facilities amounted to about USD 229 million in 1997, MOE expects a new authorization of USD 1.468 billion to fund the construction of a total of 43 additional municipal solid waste incineration plants by 2001.

According to a Seoul Metropolitan Government source working
in the Waste Facilities Division, in spite of the country’s economic difficulties and budget retrenchment, Seoul City plans to invest USD 550 million to construct four municipal waste incineration plants, one each at Mapo, Songpa, Kangseo and Joongrang districts, with details as follows:

Name of Facility Capacity Status

Mapo 1,000 Finalized environmental (Location: Sangam-dong, assessment and basic Mapo-Ku, Seoul) design.

Songpa 500 Finalizing environmental (Location: Janggi-dong, assessment.
Songpa-ku, Seoul)

Kangseo 1,500 Environmental assessment (Location: Ogok-dong, and basic design will be Kangseo-ku, Seoul) finalized by April ’99.

Joongrang 300 Environmental assessment (Location: Mangwoo-dong, and basic design will be Joongrang-ku, Seoul) finalized by April ’99.

In spite of the nation’s current economic difficulties, the ROKG still plans to invest USD 1.468 million to fund the construction of a total of 43 municipal solid waste incineration plants by 2001. To help U.S. environmental exporters capitalize on these market opportunities, CS Korea and the U.S.-Asia Environmental Partnership (U.S.-AEP/Korea) will organize a U.S. Pavilion at the International Exhibition on Environmental Technologies (ENVEX) ’99 June 11-14. ENVEX is the biggest environmental trade show in Korea, and, at ENVEX ’98, U.S. exhibitors successfully displayed the advantages of American manufacturers offering cutting-edge technology. As a result, the Commercial Service Korea and U.S.-AEP/Korea believe a U.S. Pavilion in 1999, spotlighting leading U.S. firms with advanced technologies in the field of environmental products and services, will attract great interest from Korean buyers. We will showcase U.S. sponsors, advertisers, and exhibitors under this American promotion umbrella to maximize exposure among Korean decision-makers. U.S.-AEP/Korea has established long-term positive relationships with many private industry, public institution, and government representatives, and our U.S. Pavilion, therefore, is a perfect venue to make these important connections. U.S. companies interested in exhibiting through the U.S. Pavilion at ENVEX ’99 should contact U.S.-AEP/Korea for further information:

Mr. Chi Sun Lee, Director
Other key contacts in the Korean environmental market are:

Mr. Yong Chel Choi, Director
Mr. Won-Sang Youn, Director
Waste Facilities Div.
Seoul Metropolitan Government
31, Taepyung-ro, Joong-ku,
Seoul 100-744 Korea
Phone: 82-2-3707-9593
Fax : 82-2-3707-9609

Dr. Jong-Suk Kim, Executive Director Mr. Taek Woong Lee, President
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