Since last September, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has been striving to make Seoul a City Free of Disposable Plastics and, as part of its efforts, is running a campaign with civic organizations to reduce consumption of five major single-use plastics, such as plastic cups, straws, bags, packaging, and suit covers.
In South Korea, the annual number of disposable plastic cups used is as many as 25.7 billion, straws 10 billion, bags 21.1 billion, and suit covers 400 million. As of 2016, the amount of plastics used in South Korea is 132.7 kg per person, greater than 93.8 kg in the USA and 65.8 kg in Japan.
For this reason, in April this year, the Seoul Metropolitan Government selected an organization for each item, in order to pursue campaigns for encouraging citizen participation to reduce the usage of plastics.
The campaigns are being conducted by the Korea Federation for Environmental Movement to cut down the usage of plastic cups and straws, Seoul Saemaeul Women’s Association for bags, Green Future for packaging, and Korea Women’s Federation for Consumer for suit covers.
The Korea Federation for Environmental Movement will monitor the actual usage of single-use cups and straws and distribute guidelines to cafes to prevent them from providing plastic straws. Campaigns will also be waged at the venues of university festivals and other events in order to limit the usage of plastic straws. Also, by receiving reports on plastic-free cafes, the KFEM will discover exemplary cases to practice these guidelines.
On May 18, Green Future launched the campaign to reduce the consumption of packaging at the food-delivery-concentrated zone in Yeouido Hangang Park.
At the campaign, people were informed of the current status of environmental pollution owing to disposable plastics, agreed to participate in reducing consumption of disposable food packaging, and posted their signatures as evidence of the agreement on SNS, by which they received multi-use spoons and chopsticks.
Green Future will continue running the campaign at citizen-concentrated areas like Hangang parks and Gwanghwamun Market. Also, it has plans to conduct a factual survey on the store operation of a chicken franchise that willingly signed an MOU with the Seoul Metropolitan Government in February and to give advice.
The Korea Women’s Federation for Consumer has been leading the movement to decrease the use of suit covers as it agreed in an MOU with the Korea Cleaning Association and the Seoul Metropolitan Government last October.
This year, the KWFC has trained 20 campaign leaders for reduction of the number of suit covers used in laundries, and since May, they have visited over 900 laundries to raise awareness.
The Seoul Saemaeul Women’s Association signed an MOU with the Seoul Metropolitan Governance Merchant Association last year and is launching the campaign to cut back on the use of single-use plastic bags in traditional markets.
This year, it is running the campaign at 10 traditional markets, six more markets compared to last year. At the newly selected markets, various events and programs will take place, including an agreement ceremony between the SSWA and the merchant associations, making shopping baskets, accepting basket donations, providing free baskets to those who shop without plastic bags, collecting newspapers that can replace the plastic bags used to wrap groceries, and more.
The SSWA will run the campaign to curtail the use of plastic bags twice a month at traditional markets by conducting surveys, supplying newspapers, and collecting shopping baskets.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government will unswervingly lead the campaign to reduce the use of five major plastic disposables and is going to open the discussion to evaluate the outcome of each civic organization in November to seek better methods.
Choi Gyu-dong, Director of the SMG’s Resources Recycling Division said, “The seemingly insignificant practices in daily life, like bringing a personal tumbler, not using plastic straws, using shopping baskets, saying no to disposable spoons and chopsticks, and not receiving suit covers from laundries, are in fact important. We urge citizens to more actively participate and cooperate.”
|The Campaign for Reducing the Use of Single-Use Cups and Straws|
|The Campaign for Reducing the Consumption of Plastic Packaging|
|The Movement to Cut Down the Use of Single-Use Suit Covers|