|▲ World Multi Net / CEO Park Young-hee|
Whenever environmental issues arise, the issue of waste disposal always comes up. In particular, recycling waste is very directly related to the environment. About 500,000 tons of garbage is thrown away every day in Korea, of which 100 PET bottles are thrown away per year by one citizen. This is why carbon neutrality is impossible without thorough recycling. Korea has already entered the 28th year since the separation of recycling, but there are still many shortcomings. According to the ‘Environmental Statistical Yearbook 2021’ announced by the government, the total household waste recycling rate as of 2020 is only 59.5%.
In recent years, due to the ban on the import of waste plastics by the Ministry of Environment, there is a shortage of waste plastics. As a result, separate collection has become more important to achieve self-sufficiency in waste plastics. Not only companies but also local governments are in a situation where they have to actively take steps for separate collection, but there is still a long way to go due to administrative, technical, and systemic problems. In the midst of this, there is a domestic company that is receiving great attention by introducing innovative recycling rewarding solutions. PowerKorea sat down with World Multi Net CEO Park Young-hee and heard the story.
Correct recycling is the keyword for resource circulation and carbon neutrality
World Multi Net’s ‘Circular Economy’ solution
To find the answer to increase resource circulation and increase recycling rate, we need to look at the current situation from two perspectives. The first is ‘Is separate collection working well?’ and the second is ‘Is the separated garbage being recycled?’
According to the Ministry of Environment, the domestic plastic recycling rate is 70% as of 2020. It is known that this figure is significantly higher than the global plastic waste recycling rate of 9% in 2019 estimated by the OECD. However, experts estimate that the actual plastic recycling rate in Korea is less than 10%. The reason for such a big difference is that about 70% of recycled waste is used for ‘energy recovery’, which converts heat generated during incineration into energy. Simply put, it means that the separated and discharged recycled waste is burned to obtain thermal power generation energy. In the plastic recycling statistics of Europe and international organizations, waste plastic used as an auxiliary heat source is not recognized as recycling. In the sense that the heat generated from incineration is used, it is actually judged as incineration. The recovery rate of waste plastic energy in Europe is about 42%, which is counted as a separate item other than recycling. In the end, it means that the original purpose of resource circulation and carbon neutrality can be achieved only by increasing the ratio of pure recycling through proper separation and discharge.
As part of its business to solve the recycling problem, World Multi Net has introduced a ‘Circular Economy’ solution that can make the most of resources.
‘Petmore’ that solves everything from collection to compaction and shredding with the help of AI
World Multi Net acquired ‘Eco-Save’, a leading resource recovery company with 15 years of experience, in 2020, and secured the original technology and released related devices such as the world’s first automatic cell phone recovery machine, empty bottles automatic recovery machine, and can and PET automatic recovery machine. Recently, the efficiency of the solution has been maximized by additionally developing an app that interworks with the various hardware mentioned above.
‘Petmore’, a representative product, is a device that collects transparent PET and is the first device in Korea to apply Ai technology. This product was jointly developed with Seoul National University as equipment that separates and collects transparent plastic bottles after removing the cap and label. Artificial intelligence checks whether the PET is transparent and whether the label and lid are removed, and only perfectly transparent PET bottles are collected. It not only collects but also has a function of compressing and crushing itself for storage of the collected PET. The shredding function is an innovative technology that can reduce the investment of time and money for collection, and the original technology for Petmore is currently registered as a patent.
‘Byungmore’, an automatic reclaimer for empty bottles, rewards with various points and induces voluntary separation
Lotte Mart plans to introduce it as the only engineering waste recovery equipment in Korea through pilot operation of community centers across the country
Another representative product, ‘Byungmore’, an empty bottle collecting machine, is a device that detects and collects beer and soju bottles by itself with artificial intelligence. A feature of this equipment is that each time an empty bottle is collected, a deposit is paid according to the type of empty bottle. The deposit can be a point, cash and such payable. In the case of products installed in Lotte Mart, L points are given. World Multi Net has succeeded a localization through the ‘Global Environmental Technology Development Project’, a national project of the Ministry of Environment in 2016, and is the only company in Korea that has developed and sold automatic recovery machines for empty bottles. In 2017, a MOU was signed with the Geumcheon-gun Office of Seoul, and it was installed at the Gasan-dong Community Center and Siheung 4-dong Community Center, and was also installed and operated at the Cheonhan Nonghyup Hanaro Mart.
The company’s automatic collection of waste cell phones is also worth noting. Most homes have at least one or two old, unused cell phones. Automated cell phone collection machines recognize these cell phones and calculate the residual value and compensate them. Depending on the condition of the cell phone, it may be resold as a used product or recycled by separating parts.
‘CXB (Carbon Exchange Book)’, a platform that supports citizens’ voluntary carbon reduction activities
Citizens can achieve voluntary carbon reduction by supporting in-kind transactions and revenue generation
World Multi Net will also soon release CXB (Carbon Exchange Book), a platform that supports voluntary carbon reduction activities and applications that support the aforementioned equipment. Reverse Vending Box (RVB), a recycling collection equipment that supports this platform, is a device that interlocks various functions installed in existing equipment, such as Petmore and Byungmore, into the app. RVB is a solution that simply links with the CxB app anywhere, gives recyclables and receives rewards with carbon points. If you take a picture of recycled resources such as empty bottles and PET, upload it to the app, and put it into RVB equipment, the emitter will receive carbon points.
Carbon points accumulated based on blockchain technology are certified as citizen emission rights and can be exchanged for various upcycling products. In the future, it can be registered as carbon credits and sold to countries or companies to generate profits. CEO Park Young-hee said, “When more members use the CXB platform and carbon points accumulate over a certain amount, they will be sold to companies or countries, and the profits generated from it will be shared with local residents. In order to fully implement this platform, first, our equipment must be installed in many places, and the number of members who use the platform must increase.” Park emphasized the importance of participation by local governments and citizens in order to do this.
‘Smart Green Station’, a platform for building a resource-circulating social foundation
Improving the collection method of household waste and recycling waste to regular discharge and automated collection methods
World Multi Net also has a plan to distribute nationwide the ‘Smart Green Station’, an integrated recycling automatic collection system. Smart Green Station is an integrated recycling platform that encourages and supports residents to voluntarily separate recycling by installing waste batteries, waste fluorescent lamps, waste clothing, etc. together in various recycling resource recovery machines of World Multi Net. In the past, this platform was selected as a ‘Seoul City Recycling Automatic Recycling System Demonstration Project’ and was installed on Rodeo Street in Hongdae, as well as Soonchunhyang University, Hoseo University and Tangjeong Elementary School in Asan City. The new version of the Smart Green Station to be released this time adds an LED outdoor billboard that lights up by itself through solar power generation, providing various information for residents as well as generating revenue. CEO Park said “Smart Green Station is a platform that improves the collection methods of household and recycling wastes to regular discharge and automated collection methods. By using IoT technology, we not only reduce the excessive use of existing volume-based waste disposal bags, but also reduce the combined effects of CO2 reduction, energy use, environmental pollution, and social costs through the revitalization of recyclables and innovative source reduction of household waste. Through this, we can build the foundation of a resource-circulating society.”
Improving public’s awareness of recycling and playing a role in building a smart city
The Korean government is making great efforts to build a smart city that is the center of the Korean version of the New Deal. The core of the smart city promoted by the government is resource circulation. However, last month, a domestic media company held a quiz game about recycling and recycling for Korean adults in their 20s to 60s. As a result, the average score of the respondents was around 50 (out of 100), so knowledge and awareness of recycling were quite insufficient. World Multi Net aims to improve public’s awareness of recycling and playing a role in building a smart city through the Smart Green Station project. CEO Park said “We will become a company that supports citizens’ voluntary carbon reduction activities and realizes the social value of carbon neutrality.”
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