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South Korea to make companies pay for hard-to-recycle packaging

Staff Writer |
South Korea will charge manufacturers extra for packaging that makes recycling difficult in its latest green campaign.

The country’s Ministry of Environment on Monday said it would enforce from December a tax system that levies differing rates on plastic and glass bottles depending on their recyclability.

The decision is in line with the worldwide environmental policy of “making polluters pay.” As of last year, Korea’s recycling rate of plastics stood at 34 percent, according to the environment ministry.

The government is said to benchmark France’s grading system, where the tax differentials are as wide as 20 times depending on the packaging type.

Glass bottles are the most easily recyclable and are charged 1.21 euros ($1.37) per kilogram in France. At the other end of the spectrum are colored plastic bottles, which are slapped 28.06 euros because of the difficulties in sorting and reprocessing. Non-colored or transparent PET bottles, which are easier to shred and recycle, are levied a lower tax of 24.22 euros.

A similar grading system would be applied to bottle labels in Korea, effective immediately, to encourage companies to attach more easily removable labels.

According to the environment ministry, the highest grade would be awarded to those non-adhesive labels that can be easily torn along the dotted lines. The next are adhesive, water-soluble labels that can be detached quickly with water. The lowest grade would go to those non-water-soluble ones that leave behind a sticky residue when removed.

Manufacturers will be levied differentiated taxes based on such grades, the ministry explained.

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