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  • Package-free “Zero Market” Opens in Seoul’s Hypermarkets

  • Press Releases SMG 24
    • Seoul will run zero markets as a pilot program until next June. In zero markets, customers can bring in their containers, refill shampoo and dish soap as much as they want
    • Each zero market will run differently: some will provide grocery bag collecting and recycling service, and others will run automatically without a cashier

    SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA, December 28, 2021 – The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) opens ten Zero Markets inside department stores, supermarkets, and shopping malls in apartment complexes. Zero Market is a bulk store selling products without packaging. No other municipal government in Korea has run zero waste stores in hypermarkets.

    Zero Market is an eco-friendly store where customers can buy refillable products, such as dish soap, shampoo, and cosmetics, in bulk as much as they need. As all products are sold by weight, customers need containers. They can simply use a container provided by the store or bring in their own. Zero Markets can help reduce domestic waste and protect the environment, given that it does not sell products in single-use plastics or any other packaging.

    The first Zero Market already opened at Home plus Worldcup Branch on December 21. More stores are coming by the end of January 2022. The Zero Markets will sell products for six months as Seoul’s pilot program. Seoul carefully selected locations of the ten stores to ensure that many citizens across the city can experience the zero-waste culture and consume eco-friendly.

    The city establishes zero-waste stores inside department stores and hypermarkets with high foot traffic in collaboration with the distribution industry. This program aims to introduce Zero Markets to citizens and spread the waste-reduction culture. Zero Markets will reflect the characteristics of each department store, distribution store, and supermarket.

    Some Zero Markets will be the center of resource circulation in the region. For example, they will collect and recycle earphones and chargers often thrown away as domestic waste despite their high recycling values. Also, they will serve as facilities to collect and share shopping bags and glass
    containers. In addition, other eco-friendly daily necessities, such as a bamboo toothbrush, natural loofah, dish soap, shampoo bar, and handkerchief, will be available at Zero Markets.

    The Markets will be run by owners of the existing zero waste shops or those who want to start a Zero Market. Seoul expects this pilot program to be a great opportunity where hypermarkets, mom-and-pop shop owners, and retailers work together to promote green consumption.

    When the pilot program is over, each distribution company will run the Zero Market as they want. The city government will share the operation result with the distribution industry to encourage more companies to open zero-waste stores.

    “Seoul’s Zero Markets will be the stepping stone for popularizing the zero-waste culture. It is the first time for zero waste stores, which has been running on a small scale, to open a shop in large shopping centers, which are the primary actor of the local economy,” said Yoo Yeon-Sik, Director
    General of Climate & Environment Headquarters of Seoul. “The SMG will do its best to promote zero-waste culture and sustainable consumption by reducing unnecessary packaging.”