South Korea Korea revises evaluation for ease of recycling of containers and trays made of multiple materials to “difficult” grade

Korea revises evaluation for ease of recycling of containers and trays made of multiple materials to “difficult” grade

On February 28, 2022, the Ministry of Environment of South Korea enacted a revised version of the Evaluation Criteria for Grading the Ease of Recycling of Packaging Materials (Ministry of Environment Notification No. 2022-44) to adjust the grading of ease of recycling of packaging materials such as containers and trays made of synthetic resin materials. Under this amendment, containers and trays made of multiple materials where the synthetic resin is used in combination with other materials and is difficult to separate, such as packaging containers with synthetic resin and metal attached to each other, shall be classified as “difficult” grade. Also, cold storage bags used to store frozen foods and other items shall be classified as “difficult” grade if they contain aluminum in excess of 50 µm. The Ministry of Environment explained that the revision was made in order to shift from multi-material packaging to a single material packaging that is easy to recycle.

The main provisions of Evaluation Criteria for Grading the Ease of Recycling of Packaging Materials (Ministry of Environment Notification No. 2022-44) are as follows.

  1. Among containers and trays made of multiple materials, such as cosmetic containers, which were previously evaluated as “excellent” grade, those that are made of multiple materials where the synthetic resin is used in combination with other materials and is difficult to separate, including packaging containers with synthetic resin and metal attached to each other, shall be classified as “difficult” grade.
  2. Containers such as cans used for packing drinking water shall be classified as “difficult” grade because their bodies are made of PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) and are combined with lids made of aluminum.
  3. Containers and trays made of multiple materials, namely synthetic resin and aluminum, used for packaging food products shall also be classified as “difficult” grade.
  4. Cold storage bags used to store frozen foods shall be classified as “difficult” grade if they contain aluminum in excess of 50 µm.
Containers and trays made of multiple materials Films and sheets made of multiple materials

1

2

3

4

 

Among the businesses subject to this scheme (producers obligated to recycle), those who manufacture or import packaging materials that have already been evaluated but whose grade will be changed due to this revision must conduct an evaluation on ease of recycling in accordance with this revision, and then submit the results to the Korea Environment Corporation by September 30, 2022, for re-assessment.

In South Korea, based on the Evaluation Criteria for Grading the Ease of Recycling of Packaging Material, the ease of recycling of packaging materials is evaluated and classified into four grades, “best,” “excellent,” “normal,” and “difficult,” for regulation. This scheme has been introduced by the Ministry of Environment since 2019 to encourage businesses to use materials that are easy to recycle. If a packaging material falls under the “difficult” grade as a result of evaluation of its ease of recycling, it is required to indicate the fact on the relevant packaging material, and the manufacturer and other relevant parties must pay 10-20% more recycling contributions for the relevant packaging material.

 

Evaluation Criteria for Grading the Ease of Recycling of Packaging Materials (Ministry of Environment Notification No. 2022-44) can be viewed from the following URL.
https://www.law.go.kr/admRulLsInfoP.do?admRulSeq=2100000209509

The press release from the Ministry of Environment regarding this article can be viewed at the following URL (in Korean).
http://me.go.kr/home/web/board/read.do;jsessionid=zoKarXrK4wIMWToxz8woG6+J.mehome1?pagerOffset=0&maxPageItems=10&maxIndexPages=10&searchKey=&searchValue=&menuId=10525&orgCd=&boardId=1511120&boardMasterId=1&boardCategoryId=&decorator=