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Gov’t seeks to rid supermarkets of plastic bags

Aug 02,2018
If the Ministry of Environment has its way, supermarkets will no longer be allowed to provide plastic bags to customers starting this year.

The ministry said on Wednesday that it would submit an amendment to the Act on the Promotion of Saving and Recycling of Resources in about 40 days with the intention of having the National Assembly pass it by the end of the year. The amendment is part of the Moon Jae-in administration’s ongoing initiative to promote environmentally-friendly policies. This month, the ministry began cracking down on the use of disposable cups inside cafes. Last month, the Blue House ordered all staff at the presidential compound, including the president himself, to use tumblers instead of disposable cups.

The policy drive began after local recycling companies refused to collect plastic recyclables in April because China had changed its rules to forbid imports of recycled materials. Forty-eight private recycling companies said at the time that they could no longer make a profit from it. Paper collection was not affected.

On May 10, the Environment Ministry announced its intention to reduce plastic waste by 50 percent of its current amount by 2030.

If the amendment passes, supermarkets will have to provide the option recycled paper bags, cardboard boxes or reusable bags. Customers can still buy garbage bags to carry their goods, an option that is currently available at most supermarkets and discount stores in Korea.

The amendment would also prohibit bakeries from putting baked goods in plastic bags for free. Bakeries will have to charge customers for them.

BY ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]