IoT Recycling system in South Korea empowers consumers with rewards for recycling

The IoT recycling promotion and recycling system in South Korea is an initiative designed to incentivise and empower consumers to actively participate in recycling efforts. This innovative programme introduces a reward system allowing individuals to earn points by utilising IoT collection bins for recycling.

Background and initiative – an incentive for consumers to recycle

A project designed by start-up Oysterable with the participation of over twenty companies (including Tetra Pak) the IoT (Internet of Things) recycling promotion and system introduce a transformative solution to address the challenge of making recycling widespread in South Korea. By integrating IoT technology into the recycling process, the initiative offers consumers a reward system, motivating them to recycle using the IoT collection bins. The programme makes recycling a seamless and rewarding experience for individuals, encouraging a shift towards more sustainable practices.

Results – more locations and increased local government participation

By using a dedicated app, consumers open smart IoT recycling bins, allowing them to earn rewards through points. IoT modules on the bins enable users to scan a barcode on each recyclable before depositing it. The points can be used to purchase products from participating companies or for other purposes, such as donations towards environmental initiatives.

The project was initially launched in Songpa, Gangnam, and Sejong City with 50 units in 2018. Since then, the programme has experienced remarkable growth, with over 300 bins now available across 20 cities. Several local governments, including Seoul, Busan, and Gyeonggi, have enthusiastically embraced it, and brand owners like Maeil Dairies actively support the rewards programme, allowing consumers to use their earned points to redeem products.

IoT recycling bins and a phone showing the associated reward application

Image: IoT recycling bins in South Korea

Looking forward – a continuing role in smarter, more responsible solutions

The widespread adoption of the programme aligns perfectly with South Korea's commitment to its Green New Deal and Smart City policies. By promoting a culture of circular economies1 and responsible waste disposal, the IoT recycling system plays a vital role in contributing to the country's efforts towards building smarter cities with improved waste management.

Women interacting in front of a carton recycling station

Image: An IoT recycling bin for cartons

1The circular economy refers to a system in which materials never become waste and are kept in circulation through processes including recycling, reuse and composting. It tackles environmental challenges by decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources. Source:, What is a circular economy?

South Korea

Oysterable, Maeil Dairies, Gangnam-Gu, Songpa-Gu, Sejong City

Tetra Pak contacts
Kim Jimmy
Ohmori Yuko