Say goodbye to disposable cups, forks in restaurants
The ban on disposable cups and utensils is back, with the initiative welcomed by the environmentally minded — but not by cafe and restaurant employees who clear and clean.
Starting April 1, people eating at cafes and restaurants won't be given single-use, disposable plastic cups, forks, spoons and knives. They will only be allowed for take-out orders. The ban was first instituted in 2018, but was temporarily lifted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Paper cups, plastic straws and plastic stir sticks aren’t prohibited, but the Ministry of Environment plans to add them starting Nov. 24.
Despite the ban, the government is allowing a "guidance period" without an end date that will exempt cafes and restaurants from fines. The decision was made, according to the Ministry of Environment, because some customers may not want to drink from cups used by others during the pandemic.
Coffee shop chains such as Starbucks and A Twosome Place put up posters explaining that disposable cups weren't available for customers staying in the shops. Employees informed customers when taking their orders.
“I wondered why the line [to make an order] was taking especially long, and it was because the employee was explaining the rule to everyone,” said 25-year-old Jung Ji-chan. "I don't mind the change that much and it's good for the environment."
One glitch came with online ordering applications.
Chains with mobile ordering apps — Starbucks, A Twosome Place and Hollys Coffee — all featured notices that in-house customers couldn’t get drinks in disposable cups. But some customers chose the disposable cup option anyway.
Cafe employees checked tables for customers with disposable cups, explaining the ban and offering to pour the drinks into reusable cups.
More regulations to get rid of plastic waste are on the way.
Starting from June 10, people will have to pay a 300-won (25-cent) deposit to get their drinks in disposable cups, even for take-out orders. The regulation will apply to chains with a 100 or more stores. Customers who bring the disposable cups back will get their deposits refunded.
BY LEE TAE-HEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]