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South Korea measures to reduce packaging waste

South Korea measures to reduce packaging waste
by Rachel Langhill at 18:16 in Emerging, Packaging

South Korea's amendment decree of the Rules on the Packaging Materials and Packaging Methods will come into force by 1st July 2020, affecting producers and importers of small electronics and re-packaged products.

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The amendment comes after consultations in January 2019 regarding 'Measures Against Overpackaging', which are part of the implementation plan for the 'Comprehensive Recycling Waste Management Measures' passed in May 2018. These measures aim to reduce plastic waste generation at all stages of the product life cycle by 50% by 2030 as well as increase plastic recycling to 50% by 2022 and 70% by 2030.

New measures obligate producers and importers to follow requirements restricting empty space and layers in packaging:

  • Empty space in packaging for portable electronics weighing below 300 g (such as cables, headsets, small speakers, etc.) is limited to 35%
  • Portable electronics packaging must not exceed two layers
  • Packaged products may not be repackaged (often referred to as 1+1 or bundling) which is often done for promotional purposes (note: this is an existing regulation that previously only affected large scale retailers)


Empty space and layering thresholds already exist for other product categories, including food and beverage, cosmetics, OTC drugs and clothing. While South Korea encourages that packaging space ratios be marked on a consumer package, it is not mandatory.

​South Korea has also recently amended its Resource Recycling Act, along with several subsidiary texts, to drive a reduction in difficult to recycle packaging. Obligated producers of in-scope packaging must evaluate how recyclable their packaging is and register it with a selected committee that will review information by 24th September 2020.


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