□ Seoul Metropolitan Government announced that it decided to share its waste recycling best practices and policy experiences with the UAE government, which has been deeply impressed by Seoul Upcycling Plaza (SUP). The plaza is the world’s first complex to integrate the entire “upcycling” process, from material donation and collection to processing, production, and sales.
□ Seoul Metropolitan Government announced that it signed a contract with the UAE Government on “recycling policies and their application” as one of the “Korea-UAE Summit” programs at Cheong Wa Dae (Korean Presidential Office) at 11:50 a.m. on Wednesday, February 27.
□ Attending the event were Park Won-soon, mayor of Seoul Metropolitan Government; Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan; Minister of Climate Change and Environment, Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi; and other officials from both countries.
□ The request for the agreement was made when the UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment and his staff visited the plaza, examined its facilities and programs, and asked for the city to share its knowledge and experience last October. The UAE has focused on the “establishment of a resource circulation system” as one of its governmental agendas.
□ The SUP, opened in September 2017 in Yongdap-dong, Seoul, is a citizen-participatory upcycling complex that is operated by Seoul Design Foundation (CEO Choi Kyung-ran). By adding innovative designs to the products and services of Seoul to promote resource circulation, the plaza is now becoming a supporter of upcycling companies as well as a multicultural space where visitors witness the entire recycling and upcycling processes. In addition, it has become a major benchmarking target for resource circulation policies at home and abroad.
● Since its opening, the SUP has recycled 5,200 tons of apparel and daily necessities annually, allowing citizens and companies to use or reuse them as recycled materials. Upcycling companies in the SUP have made and sold wallets, bags, lamps, and ornaments by recycling waste resources, including 6,000 umbrellas, 30,000 milk cartons, 10 tons of coffee bean bags, 260 tons of car seat leather, and 20,000 glass bottles.
● Every Saturday, the SUP holds an upcycling flea market where everyday items made with recycled or sustainable materials are sold. Since its opening, more than 146,000 citizens have visited the market. Among them, about 26,000 students and citizens have joined the programs in order to experience and learn about resource circulation and the environment.
● In its only two years of operation, the SUP has been able to make numerous economic, social, and cultural achievements, such as the production and sale of upcycling items and provision of civic education, based on its comprehensive facilities, where it can handle the collection and classification of recycled products, processing and provision of materials, and promotion of upcycling businesses and citizen education programs, among many other related tasks.
● The SUP has various facilities for business activities and citizen education programs, including: recycling business spaces, material bank, manufacturing sites, stores, workplaces for more than 40 upcycling companies, centers for exhibition and experience programs, workshops, dream factories (called “Fablab”), and four large lecture rooms.
□ Since its opening, many local communities and officials of overseas governments responsible for resource circulation have continuously visited the SUP to benchmark it for the development of their own local upcycling centers.
□ People from a number of local communities have visited, including Gyeonggi Province, Jeju Province, Tongyeong City, Chuncheon City, and Uiseong County in Northern Gyeongsang Province.
● The SUP is also benchmarked by government agencies and companies overseas. Emerging developing countries, such as Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, have visited the plaza to find systematic solutions to their rapidly growing waste problems and learn how to encourage citizen participation.
● Particularly, countries in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have visited frequently. Although these countries have been able to grow into resource-rich nations thanks to their oil-driven economic growth, many of them are now facing shortages of forest and water resources and are struggling to cope with waste-related problems that they can no longer ignore.
□ Following the agreements made with local communities and the Ministry of Education, this MOU signed with the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment will help the SUP broaden its cooperation with overseas government agencies.
● In September 2019, the Seoul International Upcycle Festival will be held to showcase resource circulation-related products and services of domestic and foreign companies and serve as a platform for various countries to exchange their upcycling knowledge and engage in networking.
● This year, the SUP plans to hold waste reduction environmental campaigns and foster the growth and development of environmental activists. It will also operate systematic resource circulation education and experience programs for people of all ages, from preschool kids to adults.
□ Mayor Park said, “The UAE wants to learn from our waste recycling policies and experiences with the aim of fostering their upcycling efforts. So, Seoul Metropolitan Government will take this opportunity to solidify its cooperative relationship with the UAE so that we can enhance mutual trust and help one another in a practical manner.”