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Environment Ministry revises recycled plastic usage rules

Environment Ministry revises recycled plastic usage rules

Participants in a meeting between the Ministry of the Environment and local business leaders discuss plastic recycling regulations at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Tuesday. [KCCI]
Participants in a meeting between the Ministry of the Environment and local business leaders discuss plastic recycling regulations at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Tuesday. [KCCI]

Tuesday’s meeting between the Ministry of the Environment and local business leaders saw participants discuss plastic recycling regulations at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry. [KCCI]

 
Although plastic recycling is widely acknowledged as one of the most important steps in protecting the environment’s health, Korea still has a number of regulations that strictly regulate how recycled material can be used.
 
Following a meeting Tuesday with executives from major conglomerates like Posco, Lotte Chem and LG Chems, the Ministry of Environment stated that it would revise the regulation in order to extend the use range.
 
The meeting was hosted by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI). They suggested that recycled plastics could be used as a raw material and as a fuel. This is a legal usage.
 
According to a statement from the KCCI, plastic waste that has been processed with pyrolysis oils can only be used as fuel and cannot be used as a raw material.
 
Hong Jeong-kee, Vice Minister of Environment, is quoted as saying that [The Ministry]The law will be amended to allow for the wider application of plastic waste that has been recycled.
 
Another anonymous executive mentioned the difficulty in operating research facilities for plastic recycling technology.
 
We often need to expand a research center by adding new equipment. According to the statement, an executive from a participating firm said that we must inspect any new equipment brought in.
 
The process usually takes three months and the monitoring occurs three times per month according to the representative.
 
The Vice Minister said that the ministry will work to narrow down the conditions in which a company can apply for inspection.  
 
Despite this constraint, increasing numbers of Korean companies are investing into plastic recycling technology.
 
SK Geo Centric teamed with Brightmark, a San Francisco company specializing as pyrolysis earlier this year in order to collaborate in the construction of a pyrolysis unit.
 
Construction will produce around 200,000 tons plastic waste per year, which can be converted to 1.08 million barrels pyrolysis oils.
 
According to the Environment Ministry Korea recycled 54 percent plastic in 2020.  
 
Korea imports plastic scrap. However, a large number of plastics that have been collected is not recyclable because of issues like improper sorting.
 
In the follow-up discussion, industry executives asked for more incentives to companies that invest in technologies that reduce their carbon footprint.

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BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]

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