South Korea Korea consults draft amendment of labeling rules for packaging materials

On February 22 of 2021, the Ministry of Environment (MOE) of South Korea announced a draft amendment of the Guidelines on Labeling of Separation and Discharge Marking (MOE notification No. 2017-35) and invited comments on the draft until March 16,2021. The Guidelines define the scope of product packaging subject to the labeling requirements mandated by the Separation and Discharge Labeling Scheme. Specifically, product packaging that falls under any of the “type of packaging material” and corresponding “products regulated” in the below table.

The draft amendment of the Guidelines on Labeling of Separation and Discharge Marking:


Type of packaging material Products regulated
1. Paper carton

2. Glass bottle

3. Metal cans

4. Packaging materials made of synthetic resin

Food and beverages, agricultural, aquatic and livestock products, detergents, cosmetics, shampoos and rinses for pets, drugs and quasi-drugs, butane gas products, insecticides and disinfectants, clothing, paper products, rubber bags, antifreeze agents, brake fluid and lubricating oil (limited to packaging materials made of synthetic resin), and other products that use packaging materials made of synthetic resin.
Film or sheet-type packaging materials made of synthetic resin, and cushioning materials made of formed synthetic resin Electrical appliances and personal computers (including monitors and keyboards)
Synthetic resin Single-use bags and shopping bags


The major amendments currently proposed are as follows:

  1. For cases where the base material of a package (e.g., plastic) is mixed or coated with other materials (e.g., metal) inseparably, which makes it difficult to recycle the package, the draft amendment proposes to add a new symbol (see below) to the package in addition to already-mandated separate and discharge marking.

  1. For transparent PET bottles, the draft amendment proposes to change the mandatory letters to be displayed on the bottle labels from the “PET (페트),” which is currently mandated, to “Transparent PET (투명페트)”.
  2. For products made of biomass synthetic resin that have the same physical and chemical properties as existing plastic or vinyl materials such as HDPE, LDPE, PP and PS and are recyclable with common recycling processes, the draft amendment allows to distinguish them by adding “Bio” just before the material identification marking, such as “Bio HDPE, Bio LDPE, Bio PP, Bio PS” respectively.
  3. The previously proposed amendment, which was issued in December 2020 (hereinafter “the previous draft”), proposed a change in the label size into 12 × 12 mm. However, the currently proposed amendment does not include such a change. The previous draft also proposed to include “how to discharge the package after use” on product labels but the currently proposed amendment holds the existing rule, which requires only material identification, not how to discharge them.

* The previous amendment (issued in December 2020) can be viewed at:


According to MOE, the currently proposed amendment of the Guidelines is expected to come into effect in January 2022, with a transition period in which labeling under former rules will be allowed until 2023.

MOE also proposed a revision of the Packaging Material and Structure Grade Labeling System. This revision proposes to exempt manufacturers who have established their own recycling systems and are deemed by MOE to be able to achieve designated goals of collection rates for packaging waste (15% by 2023, 30% by 2025, and 70% by 2030) from obligation on the packaging material recyclability grade labeling (e.g., “difficult to recycle”). MOE is going to form a council, which is composed of recycling industry and industrial bodies, to discuss and establish how to operate the scheme.

Notice on the revision of the Packaging Material and Structure Grade Labeling System


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