'Green Specialized Store' implementing the Zero-Waste concept for the first time in South Korea

The first zero-waste supermarket store has up and running since May in Seoul. Agricultural counsellor visited this store to experience the culture of Korea’s eco-friendly consumption and further laid the groundwork for cooperation on upcoming food waste campaigns.

Zero Waste Store
Beeld: ©ORGA Whole Food

ORGA Whole Food, Korea’s first green specialized store

ORGA Whole Food is well known LOHAS supermarket in Korea, affiliated with the parent company Pulmuone. Pulmuone started the "Direct Market for Organic Agricultural Products from its own farms" in Apgujeong-dong in  Seoul for the first time in 1981. The founder of the company is the first person to introduce the organic food culture to Korea. In fact, ORGA benchmarked the Dutch animal welfare certification system for meat products, implementing the concept and certifying their meat for animal welfare for the very first time in Korea.

As such, ORGA which has been leading the spread and promotion of culture for eco-friendly consumption in Korea, became the first distributor to operate a store that minimizes waste. On May 19 of this year, ORGA began its pilot operation of the nation's first 'green specialized store' at Bangi branch in Seoul. The "Green Specialized Store" is a concept that has expanded and developed the "Green Store" run by the Korean Ministry of Environment, and is a "Zero-Waste" store that minimizes the generation of waste to spread the green consumption culture that considers and protects the environment.

ORGA is displaying products under four themes, including "Sustainability Zone," "Eco Package Zone," "Eco-Living Zone," and "LOHAS Kitchen Zone". This enables the consumers to experience and participate in eco-friendly consumption which is in line with the designation of Korea's No. 1 green specialized store. In addition, ORGA will carry out various activities to promote voluntary "green consumption” by consumers at the Zero-Waste store.

The Korean Government's Policy on Green and Green Specialized Stores

Green Stores

Considering the importance of distribution stores and the role they play in  connecting producers and consumers, "Green store" means a store that contributes to promoting sustainable green consumption by encouraging eco-friendly consumption of  customers and operating stores in an eco-friendly way. In 2010, the Korean Ministry of Environment launched standard for designating green stores by pushing for a pilot project of "green stores" to select stores that contributed to the spread of "green consumption" of consumers, including sales of eco-friendly products and reduction of greenhouse gas and energy. In April 2011, the Act on Promotion of Purchase of Green Products was amended to establish a legal basis and implemented the green store designation system in earnest.

Green Specialized Stores

The "green specialized store" is a system that expanded and developed from the "green store" operated by the Korean Ministry of Environment. It can be defined as a "Zero Waste" store that reduces waste generation by using eco-friendly packaging to promote eco-friendly consumption.
In October 2019, the Korean Ministry of Environment signed an agreement for the spread of green consumption with the distribution industry (ORGA Whole Food, Green Village) and civic groups (Green Consumer Association, Green Purchasing Network) to make up for the lack of existing green stores and green consumption culture. In April 2020, the government selected ORGA Whole Food Bangi branch as a pilot operation store for the Green Specialized Store (Zero-Waste store), and began the operation as of May 19, 2020.

Food waste zero campaign

Agricultural Counsellor visited this Green Specialized Store recently to discuss possible cooperation activities for reduction of food waste. Her ambition is to reach the consumers and raise awareness about the importance of reducing food waste in the Korean society. Through the visit it was confirmed that ORGA can be the suitable partner for embassy to work with, especially as ORGA’s consumers consist of  influential Korean citizen groups who can implement and support the  movement of food waste in the society.

As a follow up of the visit, the embassy is planning a food waste zero campaign together with  ORGA within this year. Furthermore, ORGA is willing to introduce advanced Dutch system and products in retail industry to enhance the eco-friendly and healthy food consumption.