Busan Port – Recycling of Plastic Waste

Maritime plastic debris is a serious and international problem, resulting in a danger to both marine wildlife and human health worldwide. The Busan Port Authority identified actionable insights concerning waste management at Busan Port, and then established a resource recycling network together with stakeholders which sees the implementation of innovative, green technologies and approaches.

Busan Port’s resource recycling network addresses the problem of plastic waste through the installation of 8, innovative devices at the port which automatically sort and clean PET plastics. The plastics are then transferred by partner organizations to be decompressed, before being manufactured into recycled and upcycled goods such as duvets, and eco-bags. These goods are then donated to the elderly and underprivileged, or sold and the profits donated to social welfare charities. The network sees collaboration with companies from throughout the recycling value chain.

14,000 bottles have been recycled so far via these devices at Busan Port facilities, creating enough recycled material for 10,000 eco-bags. A total of 220kg of plastic has been collected and recycled, resulting in an estimated 526kg reduction in greenhouse gasses. Over $8,400 USD(10 million KRW) in social welfare support has been generated as a result of the upcycling program. In addition, collaboration with local government is seeing the creation of 80 jobs for local, elderly citizens within the upcycling program.

A maritime debris collection effort was also held by the BPA as part of the initiative, and saw 137 people from the port and surrounding areas take part and together clean up the waterfront zones.

Future plans for the program include the expansion of the resource recycling system throughout the port, an increase in generation of green jobs, and the establishment of regular, maritime debris collection efforts.