SEJONG, South Korea plans to ban single-use plastic bags at retail shops and colored plastic bottles for beverages as part of efforts to improve waste recycling, the Ministry of Environment said Thursday.
The ministry unveiled a set of tougher regulations to reduce plastic waste in the wake of turmoil last month caused by loss-making local waste removal companies' refusal to collect plastic recyclables.
The new rules put an emphasis on cutting down on plastic not only at the recycling stage but also during its production, distribution and consumption, ministry officials said.
Under the plan, beverage makers will be banned from using colored plastic bottles for their products from 2020 after a grace period. Colored bottles are more expensive to process for recycling compared with colorless ones.
The government also plans to ban supermarkets and grocery stores from using plastic bags starting as early as October and to require them to minimize packaging.
Incentives will be offered to large coffee chains and fast-food restaurants to encourage customers to use individual tumblers or mugs instead of plastic cups unless they are taking them out.
The ministry aims to halve plastic waste output by 2030 and lift the recycling rate to 70 percent from the current 34 percent.
The announcement came after Seoul and other key metropolitan regions experienced confusion early last month when dozens of waste removal firms refused to pick up plastic waste, citing low margins stemming from China's import ban on waste resources.
It caused chaos in many residential apartment complexes, where loads of plastic waste were stacked up and left uncollected for days.
The ministry said it will seek to boost support for the companies against any sudden drop in unit cost and help them secure a stable profit.
Source: Yonhap News Agency