June 09, 2023 13:04
Korea aims to reduce the use of plastic as part of efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030, the Environment Ministry said Thursday.
Plastic will now be listed in a separate category from other waste to draw attention to the vast amounts that are incinerated or put into landfill here.
Countries around the world agreed at a recent meeting in Paris to "develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution," according to the UN Environment Programme, but they have not gotten much further.
Korea is already committed to reducing plastic use by 20 percent over the five years from 2021 or from 4.88 million tons to 3.93 million tons.
Now Environment Minister Han Wha-jin has proposed an even more ambitious reduction target of 30 percent by 2027 or by 3.42 million tons a year.
Reduction efforts typically focus on single-use plastic such as packaging, takeaway food containers, shopping bags, cups and drinking straws, replacing them with fabric "bags for life" and biodegradable or reusable materials.
This could entail huge costs for struggling small businesses like restaurants and coffee shops. But proponents say there is already a dire shortage of landfill sites and incinerators in the capital, and burying plastic waste without incineration will be banned in 2026, making drastic cutbacks inevitable.
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