Why Are There No Trash Cans in Korea?

If you've recently visited Korea, what did you think about finding a trash can? Having lived in Korea previously, I know where to look, but any visitor to Korea could go days without being able to locate a single public trash can.

So I wanted to know why there weren't any public trash cans in Korea, and asked Koreans on the street.

For anyone visiting Korea, my recommended place for finding trash cans is inside major subway stations. You can sometimes find large trash cans just like in the US (throw everything in just one place), but they're not common still. Also subway bathrooms will often have small trash cans at the entrances where you can throw away trash. Convenience stores also have trash cans for paying customers so you can sit and enjoy their food, and throw away your trash before leaving. But these locations are only for small amounts of trash. For anything larger... good luck!

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Re: Why Are There No Trash Cans in Korea?

So... What's the real answer? Just heard a bunch of people's opinions/guesses. I'll add mine: as one girl said, otherwise people would throw their home trash away in the public trash cans. In the US, our waste management is typically rolled into real estate tax, and done on a yearly basis. You can throw away as much as you like for that fee (except large things like furniture, usually). However in Korea, non-recyclable trash must be thrown away in pre-paid bags. You pay for the volume of trash that you generate. If there were public trash cans, people could throw away stuff for free, and revenue would be lost. Sounds like a cash issue to me. I do wonder, if they switched to a system similar to the US, would public trash cans become a fixture? Another theory I've heard (regarding neatly stacked piles of trash/recycling on the street) is that elderly people who collect it for profit would otherwise not have an income. I'm talking about the ones who wheel around those huge carts. It's kind of like the public silently agreeing to help them out in a small way? Not sure if that's true, or just a convenient excuse for throwing things on the street.