Bakery franchises join the battle against plastic cups, bags

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Bakery franchises join the battle against plastic cups, bags


Michael Reiterer, EU ambassador to Korea, receives his bread in a recycled paper bag at a Paris Baguette store in Myeong-dong, central Seoul, on Tuesday. [PARIS BAGUETTE]

Korean bakeries and franchises are joining the global campaign to fight plastic pollution. Earlier this week, Korea’s biggest bakery brands announced they would introduce eco-friendly measures to reduce plastic bag and cup consumption in celebration of the ninth International Plastic Bag Free Day.

Paris Baguette and Tous Les Jours signed a voluntary agreement Monday with the Ministry of Environment and the Korea Federation for Environmental Movement to dramatically reduce their use of plastic bags.

Paris Baguette vowed to reduce plastic bag consumption by 90 percent by the end of this year, while Tous Les Jours plans on reducing plastic bag usage by 80 percent by next January.

The bakeries will begin use of more sustainable alternatives like paper bags and also recommend customers bring their own reusable bags for carrying purchases. Under current regulations, these bakeries are allowed to offer customers disposable bags free of charge.

“I hope more businesses voluntarily participate in reducing disposable products,” said EU Ambassador to Korea Michael Reiterer when he visited a Paris Baguette store in Myeong-dong, central Seoul, on Tuesday, which was International Plastic Bag Free Day. Some Paris Baguette bakeries put customers’ purchases in bags made of recycled paper to celebrate the day.

The Environment Ministry estimates that if the two bakeries reach their plastic waste reduction goals, they can save a total of 230 million plastic bags and reduce 10,925 tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year.

The ministry said in May it discourages the production of plastic containers with colors or designs due to the difficulties in recycling them.

Paris Baguette also plans to decrease its plastic straw usage by 30 percent and introduce new disposable cup lids that can be used without straws by 2019. Tous Les Jours will remove color from its disposable cups, thereby making them easier to recycle.

Paris Baguette, run by food conglomerate SPC, is Korea’s largest bakery chain with 3,367 stores across the country. CJ Foodville’s Tous Les Jours has 1,306 stores.

Major convenience stores are also trying to do their share.

GS25 announced on Tuesday that its stores will begin offering customers paper bags from next Thursday, the first convenience store to do so.

The paper bags will cost 150 won ($0.13) or 100 won according to size. Plastic bags, which cost 20 won per bag, will still be available.

Some other eco-friendly practices taken up by the convenience store chain include offering discounts of 100 won and 200 won on take-out coffee for customers who bring their own reusable cups and sending electronic receipts through the GS25 mobile app instead of printing out physical ones.

7-Eleven is embarking on a logo-free cup crusade starting today to allow recycling of its plastic cups.

Despite the risk of undermining brand awareness, the convenience store will remove the white 7-Eleven logos from its plastic cups containing ice that consumers purchase along with pouches of coffee or tea starting with a trial run in 10 stores this month.

Last year, the franchise sold around 60 million plastic cups filled with ice.

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