SEOUL, Feb. 27 (Korea Bizwire) — The amount of single-use plastic waste is increasing at a remarkable pace as the outbreak of the coronavirus has led to exponential growth in food deliveries and online shopping.
The more plastics are used, the more important it is to dispose of them separately.
In particular, the separate disposal of transparent PET bottles, a recyclable item with high added value, is attracting attention.
The Ministry of Environment announced that the launch of a campaign to promote the separate disposal of transparent PET bottles at all of the nation’s multi-family unit dwellings, including apartments, from December 25, 2020.
Transparent PET bottles can be recycled into various items, including clothes, bags and cosmetics bottles. Transparent PET bottles disposed of separately could lead to the generation of 100,000 tons of high-quality raw material per year.
The shift from plastic containers towards transparent PET bottles is also accelerating.
To boost the production of easily-recyclable transparent PET bottles, the Ministry of Environment signed agreements with the nation’s ten major mineral water producers on February 23.
Under terms of the agreements, the mineral water producers will strive to release products using label-free transparent PET bottles, and shift more than 20 percent of their products into the ones using transparent PET bottles.
Included in the list of those who signed the business agreements are Nongshim Co., Dongwon F&B Co., Lotte Chilsung Beverage Co., Sansu Beverage Co., Jeju Province Development Corp., Coca-Cola Korea, Pulmuone Saemmul Co. and Hite Jinro Co.
With a combined share of 74 percent of the nation’s mineral water market, these companies are scheduled to release label-free products within the first half of this year.
The mineral water products using label-free transparent PET bottles will be released first in bundle packages and will be later expanded to cover individual packages.
They aim to churn out more than 20,000 tons of label-free PET bottles by the end of this year, a volume equivalent to 20 percent of the currently marketed mineral water PET bottles, which is estimated at about 104,000 tons.
ESG, an abbreviation for environment, social and governance, is being positioned as a central management tenet for the retail industry.
ESG emphasizes not only environmental friendliness, including the reduction of plastics in the stage of product manufacturing, but also social responsibility and transparency in overall corporate management.
After starting from the trend of ‘value consumption,’ in which consumers become interested in companies that reflect social and ethical values and attempt to buy related products, ESG is now positioned not as an option but as a necessity for businesses to achieve sustainable growth.
‘Seagram Label-Free,’ released by Coca-Cola Korea, was the nation’s first label-free sparkling water product.
By using transparent PET bottles without labels, Seagram Label-Free improved recycling efficiency while making it easier to dispose of the bottle separately.
The product name and logo, which were previously depicted on the label, are now engraved in the bottle itself.
Going beyond the elimination of labels, Coca-Cola Korea also reduced the amount of plastic used in its PET bottles.
The company said that it can reduce the amount of plastic by 445 tons per year by pursuing lightweight Seagram PET products, in addition to the label-free products.
Fiber manufacturer Hyosung TNC Co. is pushing to expand the coverage of its recycling project for its eco-friendly fiber Regen from Jeju to Seoul.
Achieving two different goals – ‘environmental protection’ and ‘profitability’ – simultaneously by branding the eco-friendly fiber made of recycled PET bottles is regarded as one of the new social value models.
In February of 2020, in collaboration with the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province, a subsidiary of South Korean textile and chemical conglomerate Hyosung Group carried out a project to make eco-friendly bags by using its Regen Jeju fiber that is derived from recycled Samdasoo PET bottles.
The South Korean unit of the U.S. apparel company The North Face plans to produce a string of new jackets and T-shirts that will be made of Hyosung TNC’s Regen Jeju fiber by the end of this year.
For the production of such jackets sand T-shirts, about 100 tons of transparent PET bottles will be reused.
Sales at Hyosung TNC’s eco-friendly fiber brand Regen is expected to grow by more than 20 percent compared to last year, thanks to the growing interest in ethical ‘value consumption’ particularly among the MZ generation (millennials and Generation Z), the driving force behind domestic consumption.
After taking the initiative of producing some clothes by reusing the PET bottles collected by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, local outdoor clothing brand Black Yak Co. is also taking part in the latest trend of recycling transparent PET bottles.
On the basis of a resource circulation model, Black Yak is showing off a variety of high-performance recycled products under the company’s Black Yak and Nau brands, going beyond the limit of simply recycling PET bottles.
Black Yak signed agreements with the Ministry of Environment and Gangwon Provincial Government last year to establish a transparent PET bottle resource circulation system covering the entire process of disposal, recycling, production and consumption.
Under this system, the company released the nation’s first high-performance clothes made of K-rPET recycled fiber.
By teaming up with government agencies who participated in the agreements, Black Yak plans to step up its eco-friendly move towards addressing the nation’s plastic waste issue.
It installed a ‘transparent PET bottle separate collector’ at its Cheonggyesan store in October 2020 and launched a campaign to enhance public awareness about separate disposal.
Black Yak intends to install the collectors at company stores across the country on a step by step basis, aimed at heralding the importance of the separate disposal of PET bottles. Each BlackYak K-rPET t-shirt is made of about 15 recycled PET bottles.
Some companies are taking steps towards ‘plastic-free,’ going beyond the limit of ‘label-free.’
Jeju Samdasoo plans to launch a ‘Green Whole Process’ management philosophy that covers the entire process of production, collection and recycling.
To this end, it kickstarted the establishment of stage-by-stage roadmaps aimed at reducing the use of plastics by 50 percent by 2030 through the release of label-free mineral water products, the use of recycled PET bottles, and research into the development of bio-PET bottles.
South Korean retail giant Lotte Group is also stepping up efforts to promote eco-friendly management, particularly for the company’s confectionery and shopping businesses, where plastics are widely used.
Lotte Confectionery Co. joined hands with Hansol Paper to develop an eco-friendly packaging material called ‘cacao cardboard’ that is made of the powder of cacao byproducts.
J. S. Shin (email@example.com)