Korean government pushes to eliminate non-recyclable wastes

Are you a beer or wine exporter to South Korea? Then pay attention to the new government act on containers(bottles) for drink.

Check on recycled beer bottles

The Korean government drew up a plan to amend the act on the promotion of saving and recycling of resources on 28 August 2019. After having public hearing, it will be effectuated on 25 December 2019. Under the amendment of the law, Korean ministry of environment will classify containers into four grades ― the best, good, fair and bad ― and the allotment under EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) will be differentiated by the grades. The best grade will receive incentives, and the bad grade should pay 30% extra. The bad grade should also mandatorily label the fact it is hard to recycle. According to the ministry, two things are critical for recycling: colour and "detachability”. Clear containers are always preferred than those with colours, and consumers should be able to detach them from other materials easily.

  • For paper carton, detachable transparent film-coating is preferred. Colourful pulps or papers with aluminum attachment will be classified as the bad grade.
  • For glasses, only non-colour, brown or green glasses can be classified as the good grade. Labels with glues are regarded as hard to recycle.
  • For ironic cans, only aluminium cans directly printed on the can are classified as the good grade.
  • For plastic pet bottle, only non-colour and one-material bottle can be classified as the good grade.

The discussion to decrease the wastes (mainly plastic wastes) started when China suddenly stopped importation of 24 kinds of plastic wastes from Korea in January 2018. There was a waste crisis in Korea in April 2018. In May 2018, Korean government announced a long-term vision to decrease plastic wastes by 2030 by 50%.

Experts say that this is an unprecedented strong action against wastes in the world. On the other hand, foreign exporters of alcoholic drinks, most notably wine exporters, complain for the strict new regulation ; different kinds of containers with different colours or packaging technologies mean extra charge of tax in trade.