South Korea

Dec 25, 2020

South Korea will restrict the importation of waste plastics

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A large downstream market for US waste plastic exports is formulating measures to reduce PET imports to promote its own recycling.

The government of the Republic of Korea recently announced plans to restrict the import of PET bottles, although some of the terms of the policy are still being revised.

Import ban on PET bottles

On February 5, South Korea issued an English statement stating that the Ministry of Environment has drafted a framework for amending import policies to stimulate its own recycling industry.

The statement stated that in order to promote domestic recycling of plastic bottles, South Korea will recycle plastic bottles separately from other recyclables. The statement did not specify which type of plastic the policy was aimed at, but the statement meant that the policy might cover PET bottles.

The statement mentioned that Korean manufacturers use PET recycled materials to produce clothing textiles, but because of the problems of waste and impurities mixed in the collection process, Korean domestic renewable plastics are not suitable for reuse.

According to US trade data, in 2019, the US exported 9.7 million pounds (4,400 tons) of renewable PET to South Korea, accounting for 15% of all US exports of waste plastics to South Korea. "Korea Times" reported that South Korea's bulk PET imports came from Japan.

The South Korean government has set a goal to start recycling 100,000 tons of plastic bottles per year from 2022. Although it has not yet been constructed, an independent plastic bottle recycling system will enter the community in the second half of 2020, and all will enter individual households in 2021.

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