Mr. Lee pays a price for that: about 2,800 won, a little over $2, for every 20 liters of food he throws away. Leftovers go in a bucket in the kitchen all day and at closing time Mr. Lee empties it into a designated bin outside. On the lid, he puts a sticker he bought from the borough – proof that he paid for the removal.
In the morning, companies hired by the district empty those bins. Park Myung-joo and his crew start rolling through the streets at 5 AM, tearing the stickers off the bins and dumping the contents into their truck’s tank.
They work every day except Sunday. “Waiting even a day would cause huge amounts of waste to pile up,” said Mr. Park.
Around 11am, they arrive at Dobong’s processing facility, where they unload the muddy mess.
Debris – bones, seeds, shells – are picked by hand. (Dobong’s factory is one of the last in the country to not automate this step.) A conveyor belt carries the waste to a grinder, which shreds it into small pieces. Anything that cannot be shredded easily, such as plastic bags, is filtered out and burned.
The waste is then baked and dried. The moisture goes into pipes that lead to a water treatment plant, where some of it is used to produce biogas. The rest is purified and discharged into a nearby stream.
What remains of the waste at the processing plant, four hours after Mr. Park’s team has dropped it off, is ground into the final product: a dry, brown powder that smells like dirt. It is a dietary supplement for chickens and ducks, rich in protein and fiber, said Sim Yoon-sik, the facility’s manager, and is given away to any farm that wants it.