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Korea steps up recycling


In South Korea the ubiquitous plastic-made instant noodle containers and styrofoam plates will be separately collected and recycled starting from next year, the Environment Ministry there has said.

Plastic bags used for packaging ramyon and snacks will also be recycled from 2004, the Ministry stated in an article published in the Korean Times.

The ministry explained that it would enforce these measures after formulating a revision of the state recycling law in mid-October.

So far, only plastic bottles and Styrofoam boxes have been recycled due to limited recycling technology.

South Korea has witnessed huge economic development in recent years, with its manufacturing industries exporting reasonably priced cars and household goods all over the world. In conjunction with the economic growth, the fast food and food packaging industries have also grown enormously, generating vast quantities of food packaging that until now has been simply disposed of and rarely recycled.

Unlike its western counterparts, much of Asia has been slow on the uptake to recycle food and beverage packaging. However, now a number of countries, including Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia are increasing the number of initiatives in an effort to turn the tide and encourage more recycling.

Presently South Korea uses about 4 million tons of plastic per year - including 1.6 million tons of plastic packaging material - but only 15 per cent is estimated to be reused. The Korean government is hoping that adding that the measure will reduce domestic rubbish by up to 30 per cent.

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