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YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Trash receptacles on base are filling up, but not with trash coming from within the base.

Officials are mulling how to control a growing problem with trash dumping on base. It’s common to see a person open his or her trunk and quickly dump a bag or two into an on-base trash container around post.

Under the rules, that’s fine, according to Alex Harrington, command information officer for Area II and the 34th Support Group. Command policy permits U.S. military, status of forces agreement personnel and South Korean soldiers assigned to U.S. Army units to dump garbage on post, he said.

But in some places — such as behind the furniture store on south post — people have thrown garbage on the ground when the receptacles are full. “It’s a popular spot for people dumping their personal trash,” Harrington said.

A recent photograph showed a hodgepodge of odd items, ranging from a vehicle hood to shoes to a computer printer to an umbrella. The yellow trash receptacle is full, and the items have been thrown on the ground.

“So aesthetically, it is just an unpleasant sight to look at when it comes to base beautification,” Harrington said.

Harrington said there are plenty of receptacles on base for people to properly dispose of trash.

Dumping garbage on the base rather than off base is cheaper. Hundreds of servicemembers and civilians live off base, and special garbage bags must be purchased to dispose of unrecyclable waste.

The bags cost around $6 for 20 of the 20-liter (5.28-gallon) bags. But when recyclable items are separated, the bags fill up quite slowly, off-base residents say. By separating recyclable items from other waste, a person buys fewer bags.

Many Americans aren’t used to separating their garbage. While more American cities have started recycling programs in recent years, most Americans are used to tossing everything into a huge black plastic bag and tossing it on the curb.

In Seoul, plastic, glass and other material that can be recycled can be placed in any plastic bag and put on the street for pickup, said Lee Doo-won, an environment management division specialist with Yongsan-gu. There are two days when recyclables are picked up, and those two days vary according to where a person lives, he said.

New foreigners may not know about the garbage policy, but generally his office sees few problems, Lee said. His office doesn’t handle refuse on the base, he said.

“We never had to deal with them before concerning trash and recyclables,” Lee said. “Their trash doesn’t come to us so we don’t know how the problem is handled on the installation.”

The command pays a contractor, Kyongnam Inc., about $80,000 a month to haul garbage away in Area II, according to the Directorate of Public Works.

It is a flat fee regardless of how much garbage is picked up.

The company also collects from the recycle bins but will sort garbage that hasn’t been separated, a DPW official said.

— Jennifer Kleckner contributed to this report.


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