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  • 작성자 사진Yang Ha-yoon

[Feature] The Disposable Cup Deposit System is Back in Force

No.160 / Oct 17, 2022

The disposable cup deposit system will be implemented in Jeju Island and Sejong City on December 2. Under this system, customers pay a 300 won deposit per disposable cup when ordering drinks, and if they return the empty cup, they get their deposit back. The coffee shop that piloted the system lowered the deposit to 200 won because the government was worried about the effect of the original higher price as well as backlash from the coffee industry. The Ministry of Environment (ME) announced on September 23 that initially, they will only implement the system in Jeju Island and Sejong City and that they have no specific plans for nationwide expansion at this time.

Originally, the ME’s plan was to implement the disposable cup deposit system beginning in June of this year. However, there are several valid reasons for the six months delay in the system’s implementation. First, the system failed to consider the financial burden on franchisees. Implementation costs such as the deposit label, the card fee for the return of the deposit, and the expenditure associated with processing the cup recovery must be borne by the franchisee. It is the company headquarters that discussed implementation of the system with the ME via meetings, while franchise store owners received unilateral notifications from headquarters and the ME and must cover costs they do not want to cover because of a decision that does not reflect their opinions. Second, there is the problem of the very high possibility of an insufficient number of unmanned collectors for the return of disposable cups. There are only 50 unmanned collectors scheduled for installation in 2022, and next year’s budget can only supply 1,500 machines. Moreover, if the disposable cup deposit system is introduced, the cups customers return will be kept in the store to which they are returned until the garbage disposal company collects them. This will cause odors, hygiene problems, and a large amount of waste. However, there are definitely beneficial effects that can be expected from the implementation of the disposable cup deposit system. To create a sustainable environment for future generations, it is necessary to minimize the use of disposable products. Therefore, other countries are also making various efforts to reduce the use of plastic. In France, regulations were put in place and existing regulations were strengthened to restrict the use of disposable plastic products as of 2016, with the aim of eliminating all disposable plastics by 2040. In a similar effort, Canada has banned the use of disposable plastic such as disposable plastic bags, plastic utensils, and non-recyclable food containers until the end of this year. In particular, since negotiations for an international plastic treaty involving governments from various countries began in 2022, it is necessary to pay more attention to plastic regulation.

To increase the attractiveness of the disposable deposit system, a new resource circulation deposit management center was established. Additionally, the center will set up a deposit circulation system to counter the backlash in the hopes that the ME will see a surplus in the process of recovering disposable cups. As concerns about environmental pollution caused by plastic use are growing around the world, The Ajou Globe (The AG) hopes that the implementation of this system will produce helpful results.


By Yang Ha-yoon, AG Reporter

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