Yeosu Gwangyang Port Authority – Marine Plastic Collection and Utilization Network

Every year, 45,000 ships from all over the world arrive at Gwangyang Port. Plastics discharged from ships were being incinerated or landfilled as they were mixed with general waste. To protect the environment and create social value, Yeosu Gwangyang Port Authority launched Korea’s first marine plastic collection and utilization network in December 2020. This project is overseen by a council of eight organizations, led by Yeosu Gwangyang Port Authority (YGPA), and is implemented in four phases: monitoring plastic dumping, collection & sorting, processing, and recycling.

As part of the project, YGPA has established a full circular economy system for marine waste plastics, first of its kind in the world, applying circular economy to the entire process, from the collection of marine plastics to sorting, crushing, washing, drying, recycled pellets, polyester yarn, and production of bags, clothing and other useful products.

Here is our process :

  1. Ships from all over the world deliver their waste to Gwangyang Port.
  2. Waste collection companies sort out waste plastic from the collected waste with YGPA providing monetary incentives in the process.
  3. Global textile company, Hyosung TNC takes the collected marine waste plastics and processes them into recycled yarn.
  4. Clothing companies produce cloths and other products from recycled yarn processed from marine waste plastic.

Plastics with high recycling value, such as PET bottles, can be reprocessed with polyester yarn. YGPA, in collaboration with Hyosung TNC, a world-class textile manufacturer, commercializes marine plastic recycled yarn. With this recycled polyester yarn, YGPA completed upcycling by producing briefcases and safety vest in cooperation with a local sewing company, employing people with special needs.

Winning an international certificate on this project, consolidated YGPA’s leadership in this sector, and our contribution was recognized with awards from the government, such as the proactive administration award (the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries) and a medal for innovation.