Convenience stores

Asia Minute: Plastic ban in South Korean convenience stores and cafes

Starting a month from today, South Korea is banning plastic bags from convenience stores and supermarkets. This is part of a series of measures to reduce disposable waste.

There will soon be no more disposable paper cups in South Korean coffee shops.

Also, no paper plates, coffee stirrers or cocktail stirrers.

In convenience stores, disposable chopsticks will be a thing of the past, as will those little plastic bags people wrap around damp umbrellas to keep rain off the floor.

Some small businesses are complaining that some rules are inconsistent — while plastic bags will be illegal for convenience stores, restaurants can still use them.

Plastic straws are not allowed in restaurants or bars, but they are suitable for take-out drinks.

Proponents of the new law say it will make a difference.

Convenience store chain GS25 says its more than 14,000 locations currently go through an average total of 20 million disposable plastic bags each month.

All rules reducing single-use products were due to come into force earlier, but have been delayed by the pandemic.

Two years ago, the government announced its intention to reduce plastic waste by 20% by 2025.

South Korea has a relatively high plastic consumption rate, but according to consulting firm Frost and Sullivan, the country also has a recycling rate of 68%.