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Asia Minute: South Korea’s Packaging Tax

Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

Plastic bottles have long been a pollution problem all over the world. But one country in Asia is taking steps this month to clear up some of the issues that have lingered for years.

Have you ever struggled to scratch the label off one of those plastic PET bottles? If so, you’re certainly not alone — and the government of South Korea has noticed as well.

Two weeks from Wednesday, those labels will have to come off easily or the company will face a fine. Also, the bottles will have to be clear plastic – no more colors.

The reason is the same in both cases, labels that stick on plastic and colored plastic make the products more difficult to recycle.

In fact, there are a whole series of new environmental charges going into effect in South Korea, based on how easy or difficult the company’s packaging is to recycle.

Korea’s Joong Ang Daily says this is really going to hit one key exporter: the cosmetics industry.

Companies that produce more than four tons of packaging a year will have to indicate how easy it is to recycle the boxes, containers, plastic and paper used to pack up their product. Those using materials that are more difficult to recycle will have to pay up to 30% more as a form of environmental tax.

There is a grace period for companies to adhere to the law, but many have already made changes.

A spokesman for the Environment Ministry told reporters on Monday “It’s the global trend to use easily disposable packaging” — especially with more elements that can be recycled.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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