M.S. Thesis: Current MSW Management and Waste-to-Energy Status in the Republic of Korea

By Yoonjung Seo

Advisors: Professor Nickolas J. Themelis, Columbia University

Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering
Fu Foundation School of Engineering & Applied Science
Columbia University

November 2013

Rapid industrialization and urbanization have resulted in an accelerated rate of waste generation, adding to the environmental challenges on the relatively small land mass of the Republic of Korea (“South Korea”). Since the early 1990s, securing landfills for the country’s waste output has become more and more difficult because of the congestion of land space and the public concern for a cleaner environment. In order to move towards a sustainable future, the government of the Republic of Korea has set periodic environmental plans and implemented several waste management policies.

The objective of this study was to examine the management of municipal solid waste (MSW) in the Republic of Korea, from generation to final disposal, in the light of the generally accepted hierarchy of waste management. The study also investigated the status of waste-to-energy (WTE) in Korea and the potential for improvement.

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