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  • 11 years of Seoul’s Urban Mining achieved 120,000 tons of greenhouse gas reduction

  • Press Releases SMG 367
    • Seoul started its “urban mining” project in 2009 to recover and recycle rare metals from discarded electrical and electronic appliances.
    • Through this project, 36,000 tons of electronic waste and 1,730,000 discarded cell phones have been recycled, which sales volume has reached 20 billion won.
    • The project has also achieved an economic substitution effect by lowering its dependence on imported natural raw materials worth of 40.7 billion won, bringing about economic benefit worth of 5.1 billion won.

    SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA, November 9, 2021 – Seoul’s “urban mining” project marks the 11th anniversary of its implementation this year. The Seoul Metropolitan Government opened the Seoul Resource Center (SR Center) in 2009 when Mayor Oh Se-hoon was in office to tackle the electronic waste problem.

    “Urban mining” is the process of recovering rare metals from discarded electrical and electronic equipment of a city. And the SR Center is the nation’s first facility that extracts valuable materials from old electrical and electronic appliances and reuses or recycles them.

    Small and medium-sized e-waste, dumped from 25 autonomous districts, are dismantled, smashed, and selected at the SR Center to reclaim raw materials. The center treats around 5,000 tons of small and medium-sized e-waste a year.

    According to the Seoul Metropolitan Government, the SR Center has treated 36,000 tons of electronic waste and 1,730,000 discarded cell phones from 2009 to the end of September 2021. The raw materials have been reused or recycled in various industries, which sales volume has reached 20 billion won.

    The main items treated at the SR Center include small and medium-sized spent home appliances, such as fans and vacuum cleaners, waste electronics, and cell phones discharged from the city government and its affiliated organizations, such as copy machines and printers. These wastes is treated, selected, and send to recycling operators. The total amount of materials recycled has exceeded 29,486 tons.

    The Seoul Metropolitan Government said that it had achieved an economical substitution effect by lowering its dependence on imported natural raw materials worth of 40.7 billion won through this urban mining project. Its greenhouse gas reduction effect has amounted to 120,000 tons.

    Meanwhile, the SR Center also plays a role in helping the vulnerable become self-reliant by creating sustainable and high-quality jobs. Currently, 38, or 66 percent, out of 58 employees working at the center are socially vulnerable citizens.

    Besides, the SR Center becomes a venue where students and citizens can enjoy hands-on programs and learn about the environment. It allows visitors to tour the selection and recycling process at the center and have diverse on-site programs, in which participants can feel the importance of separating the waste, such as upcycling products with waste parts.

    As of September 2021, a total of 9,577 people has participated in 549 tour and hands-on programs. Since COVID-19 broke out, the SR Center has held these programs in a non-face-to-face format and carried out a resource circulation campaign linked to volunteer activities.

    “The urban mining project can achieve three things in a single action. It creates environmental and social effects and profitability at the same time. It extracts valuable metals, recycles dumped home appliances and mobile phones, and creates jobs,” said Yoo Yeon-sik, Deputy Mayor for Climate & Environment at the Seoul Metropolitan Government. “Seoul will lead the resource circulation initiative through eco-friendly treatment and recycling of e-waste.

    <Seoul’s Urban Mining project>

    Seoul’s Urban Mining project