Local discount chains strive to reduce plastic waste

By Kim Da-sol
  • Published : Apr 26, 2018 - 17:30
  • Updated : Apr 26, 2018 - 17:30
Five major discount store chains in South Korea on Thursday joined the Environment Ministry’s nationwide move to reduce plastic waste.

From left: Mega Mart’s Merchandise Director Kang Sung-tae, Korea National Council of Consumer Organization Vice President Moon Mi-ran, Nonghyup Hanaro Market CEO Kim Sung-kwang, Environment Minister Kim Eun-kyung, E-Mart’s Business Management division Director Lee Joo-hee, Homeplus Operation Management chief Jeon Hwa-soo and Lotte Mart Merchandise Director Nam Chang-hee pose after signing an agreement to participate in a nationwide campaign to reduce plastic waste. (E-Mart)

E-mart, Lotte Mart, Homeplus, Hanaro Mart and Mega Mart are participating in the latest campaign, an extended version of one in 2010, when the ministry and some 350 outlets of the five chains vowed to take the lead in creating an environmentally friendly shopping culture by reducing the use of plastic shopping bags, including by promoting reusable shopping bags and charging for plastic bags.

E-mart, a discount store chain under retail giant Shinsegae Group, said it would reduce the use of plastic bags at all its 145 stores by 50 percent. It will gradually get rid of plastic bags from the fruit and vegetable aisles at the stores. 

It will start off by only providing small plastic bags, which E-mart expects will reduce costs by 180 million won ($167,000). 

E-mart said it would also improve product packaging as well as increase the use of recyclable trays and bags. 

Through the environment-friendly campaign carried out since 2009, E-Mart said it has saved at least 60 million plastic bags and 3 billion won. 

Environment Minister Kim Eun-kyung (second from right) buys groceries at E-Mart’s Seongsu store, Thursday. (E-Mart)

“E-mart has been putting a lot of effort to suggest new campaigns to draw customers’ participation in environment-friendly shopping. We will do our best to create ‘green value’ at our stores,” said Chung Dong-hyuk, the official in charge of E-mart’s corporate outreach.

Lotte Mart and Homeplus have also been selling or lending shopping bags to promote reusable bags instead of plastic bags. 

Customers can borrow a shopping bag for 3,000 won at a checkout counter, then later get a full refund after returning the bag.

By Kim Da-sol (