The financial resource of local waste management in Ulsan is required not only for the service delivery of waste treatment, but also the establishment of advanced treatment facilities such as incineration plants.
The Ulsan municipal government constructed, in fact, several innovative waste treatment facilities, which now allow for renewable energy production. One of the facilities is a petrochemical company that uses gas from landfill waste. Another facility is an incinerating plant that provides steam from the burning of combustible wastes. The renewable energy from these waste treatment facilities is further channeled into local industries.
Another resource used for the initiative is provided by operational capacity of Ulsan metropolitan city government. The city government implements a variety of specific policy measures on municipal waste management in the following integrated ways.
1. 10% increase of recycled household waste
2. 10% decrease of household waste generation
3. Voluntary agreement with local business on
energy saving measures
4. Expansion of landfill and incinerators at Sung-am
5. Expansion of automatic selection of recycled goods
6. Establishing the second stage promotion plan on
local environment and energy industry
7. Reuse of steam from incinerators
8. Production of biogas from waste
9. Sewage sludge incineration project
10. Eco-industrial Park project
The outcomes of the Ulsan metropolitan solid waste management initiative have manifested in several dimensions – environmentally, economically and socially. The share of landfill as the conventional waste-disposal method has decreased considerably while incinerating and recycling have become the primary treatment methods. This has resulted in the reduction of the environmental burden as well as municipal waste-management costs. Additionally, by promoting eco-efficiency, the initiative introduced positive social change by cultivating a psychological shift and behaviour change towards a resource-recycling society.
By 2006, the share of conventional treatment methods had decreased sharply to 18.5 per cent (from 85.6 percent in 1994) for landfill, while recycling practices increased from 23.5 per cent to 58 per cent in 2006 alone. Such an increased share of recycling goods on municipal waste generation is effective in reducing the environmental burden as well as treatment costs. In addition, requiring the separation of recyclable goods by material is not only effective for increasing what is recycled but is important for reducing combustible/non-combustible wastes. As well, 64 per cent of the entire steam generated from incinerating is now used for heating systems and power generation by local industries. Such a development and application of waste heat-recycling practices through incineration has become a benchmark case for symbiosis with the industrial sector in terms of eco-efficient use of municipal waste management.
The total generation of municipal waste has decreased with the stringent enforcement of the recycling policy and waste separation. Although the figures indicate consistency in waste production throughout the entire period of analysis between 1994 (1,017.0 tons per day) and 2006 (1,111.8 tons per day), per capita waste generation has also shown a declining tendency (from 1.10 tons per day to 0.99 tons per day) during the same period, indicating that even with the population increases, reductions continued consistently.
Regarding the collection of municipal waste, there are few changes in terms of the quality of service delivery. Local districts are increasingly using the private sector to collect waste. Although there is no significant change in the number of personnel charging for waste collection in recent years, the quality of services and related facilities in the private sector has improved.