South Korea Korea to exclude disposable products from the target of eco-labeling system

Products such as packaging materials and biodegradable resins

On November 4, 2021, the Ministry of Environment (MOE) of South Korea released a draft amendment to the Eco-label Target Products and Certification Criteria (hereinafter “the draft amendment”). The draft amendment excludes disposable items (e.g., packaging materials and biodegradable resins) from the scope of Eco-labeling Certification Scheme and strengthens the certification criteria for 24 products such as air conditioners and multipurpose detergents in terms of the global warming potential (GWP). For packaging materials, which are used by product type, it is proposed to apply the Evaluation Criteria for Grading the Ease of Recycling of Packaging Materials in a unified manner, and to grant certification only to materials graded as “excellent.” The MOE explained that the draft amendment aimed to improve the credibility of the eco-labeling certification and to strengthen its linkage with policies to reduce the use of plastics.

 

In South Korea, a product can obtain eco-label certification under the Eco-label Certification System if the product’s environmental performance is superior to those of different products with the same application (including equipment, materials and services affecting the environment). To obtain such certification, an application must be made to the MOE. The eco-label certification criteria are set out for each product. The eco-labeling certification system has designated more than 170 types of products and services as target products: office equipment (copiers, printers, facsimiles, PCs, and monitors), stationery, office products, office furniture, construction materials/supplies/equipment, household goods, home appliances, transportation and leisure-related products, and industrial products and equipment.

 

The major content of the proposed amendment are as follows.

  • Among packaging materials, biodegradable resins, and biomass resin products, disposal products will be generally excluded from the scope of the certifiable products. In the case of biodegradable resins, certification will be granted only to agricultural films and veterinary products, which are usually difficult to collect after use. In this case, the term of validity of existing certifications will be maintained.
  • For the following 24 products, the certification criteria in terms of GWP will be strengthened.
  • Thermal insulation, air conditioners, multipurpose detergents, air fresheners, polishers, indoor floor coverings, fabricated floor heating systems, finishing materials for walls and ceilings, industrial detergents, cleaning machines for parts and equipment, foamed synthetic resin mats, protective products for infants and toddlers, water toys, beds, heat pump systems, multi-air conditioners, clothes dryers, chairs, accessories for furniture, artificial leather for decoration, bedding, toys, aquaculture products, and electric two-wheeled vehicles.
  • The certification criteria will be changed for the following five products: multipurpose detergents, air fresheners, deodorizers, polishers, and automotive window cleaning fluids. Currently, the status of use of hazardous substances is reviewed on documents, at the time of certification. However, testing will be required under the draft amendment.
  • For packaging materials, which are used by product type, the Evaluation Criteria for Grading the Ease of Recycling of Packaging Materials will be applied in a unified manner, and certification will only be given to materials graded as “excellent.”
  • The amount of application fee for certification will be reduced to make it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises to obtain certification.

 

The MOE will publicize the proposed amendment for 21 days from November 5, 2011 to invite opinions.

 

The MOE’s press release on the draft amendment can be found at: (in Korean only)

https://me.go.kr/home/web/board/read.do?pagerOffset=10&maxPageItems=10&maxIndexPages=10&searchKey=&searchValue=&menuId=10525&orgCd=&boardId=1485060&boardMasterId=1&boardCategoryId=&decorator=

The draft amendment can be viewed at: (In Korean Only)

https://www.epeople.go.kr/cmmn/idea/redirect.do?ideaRegNo=1AE-2111-0000052