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Disposable cup deposits to be reinstated in 2022

Deposits for disposable cups will return in South Korea in 2022, as the government strives to cut back on single-use items and boost recycling.

According to the Ministry of Environment on Tuesday, the plan was approved at a Cabinet meeting earlier in the day to require local businesses to charge extra for consumers buying beverage items in single-use plastic or paper cups in deposits to be claimed back with the return of those cups.   

The deposit amount is yet to be determined. It was 50 to 100 won (4 to 8 cents) per cup when the system was previously in place from 2002-2008.

The reinstitution, scheduled for June of 2022, comes as the country saw a sharp rise in the use of disposable cups while their recovery rate fell. 

In 2018, about 2.5 billion single-use cups were used in the country, but just 1 in 5 were recovered for recycling.

That is about a sixfold increase from 420 million cups used in 2007 and a decrease from a 37 percent recovery level reported in 2009.

The ministry said recovery and recycling of disposable cups can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 66 percent when compared to incineration after a single use. It will also help save 44.5 billion won a year in related costs.  

The deposit system was abolished in 2008 to respond to a falling recovery rate of the cups, which led to a larger sum of unclaimed deposits at businesses’ disposal. 

To avoid the same problem, the ministry said it will devise measures and set up entities to ensure transparency in the management of unclaimed deposits.

By Ko Jun-tae (
catch table
Korea Herald daum