Survey finds around 25% of paper cups are recycled
About one quarter of disposable paper cups in which beverages were sold were returned to fast food chains for recycling in the first half of this year, compared to less than 10 percent in the same period two years ago, according to a JoongAng Ilbo survey.
As part of its recycling efforts, the Ministry of Environment mandated as of Jan. 1, 2003, that all fast food chains and take-out coffee shops charge a deposit of 100 won and 50 won, respectively, to encourage consumers to return the used cups to the store.
The JoongAng Ilbo survey found that the nation’s four major fast food chains ― Lotteria, McDonald’s, Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken ― had 25 percent of their customers retrieve their deposit during the first six months of this year. The return rate stood at 14 percent in the first year of enforcement, while it picked up to 22 percent last year.
The four chains collected a total of 11.7 billion won ($11.2 million) in deposits from the time the regulations went into effect until June, and the amount refunded to customers amounted to 2.3 billion won, according to the study.
When customers fail to return a disposable paper cup to a fast food chain or take-out coffee shop to reclaim the deposit, it actually may have some beneficial effects. With the total unrefunded money amounting to 9.4 billion won, the fast food chains and the Environment Ministry have offered scholarships for the underprivileged or held environmental campaigns.
by Kwon Hyuk-joo