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S. Korea to adopt deposit system for disposable plastic cups used at cafes and restaurants

By Park Sae-jin Posted : January 24, 2022, 15:56 Updated : January 24, 2022, 15:56

[Gettyimages Bank]

SEOUL -- In an effort to promote the use of reusable cups and reduce plastic waste, South Korea will adopt a deposit system at cafes and restaurants to charge customers 300 won (25 cents) per disposable cup. Deposit money will be refunded if a customer returns a used cup.
Starting with Seoul, South Korea kicked off a campaign in 2018 to gradually ban the use of disposable cups at coffee shops by regulating the use of plastic and paper cups. Shop owners favored using disposable cups to save time for washing at busy hours.
However, the green campaign came to a temporary halt in early 2020 when the first wave of a coronavirus pandemic struck South Korea. Shop owners were allowed to use plastic and paper cups for customers who drink inside to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
The Ministry of Environment said that standardized plastic cups will be used at cafe franchises that have more than 100 affiliated stores in June 2022. The ministry predicted that some 2.3 billion disposable cups will be collected. Customers can return as many cups as they can collect to receive deposit money.
Various types of disposable cups will be standardized and produced so that they can be collected, pulverized, and reused for the production of new cups. Each cup will have a unique barcode and an anti-counterfeit sticker to prevent people from getting deposit refunds using a single cup. Standardized cups can be returned to any franchise store.
Some companies produced disposable cups made of biodegradable plastic, but they have been shunned by store operators because biodegradable cups are about three times more expensive than ordinary plastic cups made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). 

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