South Korea South Korea proposes five subordinate regulations for fully renewed Circular Economy Transition Act

South Korea proposes five subordinate regulations for fully renewed Circular Economy Transition Act

On January 24, 2024, the Ministry of Environment (MOE) of South Korea announced that, in accordance with the full revision of the pre-existing Framework Act on Resources Circulation into the Act on Promotion of Transition to a Circular Economy Society (hereinafter “Circular Economy Act” or “the Act”), which becomes effective on January 1, 2024, it has formulated five draft subordinate regulations that define the details of the Circular Economy Act. The core of the Circular Economy Act consists of Circular Resource Certification Program, in which waste that is certified as a circular resource under the Act is not considered waste and is therefore exempted from waste-related regulations.

These five draft regulations aim to define details of the Circular Resource Certification Program under the Circular Economy Act, such as standards and purpose of use of circular resources, standards for hazardous substances, procedures and methods for certification of circular resources, and methods and procedures for displaying circular resource quality labels.


Overview of the Circular Resource Certification Program

  1. When waste from a business site is certified as a “circular resource” as defined in the Circular Economy Act, that waste is not considered as waste.
  2. Waste that has been certified as a circular resource means that it is not hazardous in its discharge, transportation, storage, treatment or use, and is therefore no longer regulated by the Wastes Control Act and is exempted from waste-related regulations.
  3. This program is voluntary, not mandatory. Any business site that disposes of any of the business site wastes defined in the Wastes Control Act may apply for this certification on a voluntary basis.
  4. When a business site applies for certification, it must meet certification criteria, such as hazardous substance content standards, and undergo on-site inspection and expert consultation. A decision is then made as to whether or not the applicant should be granted certification.
  5. Any business site that disposes of business site waste by incineration or landfill that could otherwise be used as a circular resource will be charged a Waste Disposal Fee. Such a site must submit materials annually to the Ministry of Environment, including data on the amount disposed of by incineration and/or landfill in the previous fiscal year.


Summary of the five new or revised regulations proposed by MOE

Regulation names Main content
Standards for Hazardous Substances such as Foreign Substances and Heavy Metals in Circular Resources This sets content standards for hazardous substances contained in waste to be certified as a circular resource.
Notice on the Standards and Purpose of Use of Circular Resources This specifies that in order for waste to be certified as a circular resource, the standards specified in Article 3 and the purpose of use specified in Article 4 of this regulation must be met.
Notice on Procedures, Methods, etc. for Certification of Circular Resources In accordance with the complete revision of the Framework Act on Resources Circulation into the Circular Economy Act, this reformulates the previous certification procedures for circular resources. For example, the procedures for technical examination and expert consultation of certification applications are revised and supplementary provisions are added to allow the application for reissuance of certificates in case of loss, etc. With regard to regular or occasional inspections to be conducted by the Regional Environmental Offices after a circular resource certificate is issued, details of those eligible for relaxation of the inspection cycle are revised.
Notice on Certification Procedures, Methods, etc. for the Circular Resource Quality Label This specifies the application procedures and methods for business operators to apply for quality certification of circular resources and the government conducts quality certification (this is a discretionary provision). It also prescribes matters necessary for businesses to affix labels on the packaging and containers of quality-certified products (hereinafter “labeling of products using circular resources”).
Notice on Standards, Methods, Procedures, etc. for Labeling of Products Using Circular Resources This specifies details of the labeling standards, methods, and other provisions for labeling of products using circular resources.


MOE intends to solicit comments from the public on these five proposed regulations through to February 15, 2024, and then forward them to the Ministry of Government Legislation and the National Assembly for review and promulgation.


The five proposed regulations can be viewed at the following URL (in Korean).

Author / Responsibility

AOKI Kenji

Senior Consultant, EnviX Ltd.
General Director, E&H Consulting Co., Ltd.

Business Performance

Expertise in EHS (environment, health and safety) consulting in ASEAN region.
- Environmental regulations updating
- Chemical regulations consulting


MSc in Earth Science, The University of Tokyo

AOKI Kenji