Packaging limits being introduced

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Packaging limits being introduced

In an effort to slow the increase of garbage, the Ministry of Environment is updating recycling laws in order to ban excessive packaging and setting new guidelines to minimize delivery - parcel waste.

The Environment Ministry announced Wednesday that it is planning to revise the Act on the Promotion of Saving and Recycling of Resources to strengthen packaging regulations. The revisions are expected go into effect by the first half of this year after the government notifies businesses.

The changes are designed taking into account opinions of consumers, businesses and experts.

According to the planned revisions, businesses will be prohibited from packaging products twice, which has been a common practice among supermarkets that offer buy-one-get-one-free deals.

The ministry will also introduce new limits on the packaging of small electronic gadgets, like cables, chargers and earphones. With the revision, businesses will need to ensure that 35 percent or less of the total volume of the product is packaging. The use of void fillers for goods like toys and action figures will also be limited.

The ministry did not confirm whether the new revisions will come with monetary penalties.

“We are not yet disclosing whether there will be fines for violating the revisions once they take effect,” said a spokesperson. “But there will be measures taken to enforce them.”

Separate from the revision, the ministry also introduced a new set of guidelines on packaging for parcel deliverers.

With more consumers ordering fresh produce from large supermarkets and online retailers for delivery to their home several times a week, the ministry is encouraging businesses to use reusable containers. The ministry is also promoting the use of water-based ice packs for cooling produce instead of gel-packs.

For non-fragile materials, like books, clothing and shoes, the ministry will limit packaging volume to 50 percent of the total volume.

Businesses will also be encouraged to replace plastic-based void fillers inside boxes with paper-based fillers.

To make sure that the guidelines are being followed, the ministry is planning to form partnerships with CJ O Shopping and other major retailers to encourage the voluntary reduction of waste. The ministry said it may consider legally enforcing the guidelines at a later date.

“All members of society, including consumers, businesses and the government, need to participate in the prevention of waste creation,” said Lee Byung-hwa, an Environment Ministry official who oversees recycling policies.

“We are asking businesses to reduce packaging during production and consumers to purchase goods with minimal packaging.”


BY KIM EUN-JIN [kim.eunjin1@joongang.co.kr]

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