The Korea Herald


S. Korea to push for 'circular economy' of major resources

By Yonhap

Published : June 21, 2023 - 09:52

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South Korea will push for a 'circular economy' of key resources, focusing on recycling in major industries, such as steel, petrochemicals and batteries, with the goal of cutting carbon emissions, the government said Wednesday.

Under the drive named the "CE 9" project, the country will focus on seeking sustainable growth in nine segments: petrochemicals, steel, non-ferrous metals, batteries, electronics, fabrics, cars, machinery and cement, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

The new project focuses on efficient resource utilization and recycling, in contrast to the traditional "linear economy" approach of collecting, consuming and disposing of raw materials.

"With geopolitical risks, such as the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and the tightening export controls by major suppliers, the global competition to secure resources has been intensifying, also due to uncertainties in supply and prices," the industry ministry said in a report.

"As South Korea is an export-oriented economy with a small domestic market, it needs to overcome its limits in securing used resources," it added.

For example, South Korea will support the development of technologies to gather lithium and nickel from used electric vehicle batteries.

The government will also support efforts to produce oil by utilizing plastic waste and revamping related policies.

The industry ministry added such efforts are crucial considering the global market for the circular economy is anticipated to reach $4.5 trillion by 2030.

"The circular economy, which focuses on waste recycling, has emerged as a crucial method for achieving carbon neutrality and a new model of growth," Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho said during a meeting with economy-related ministers.

"To this end, the government will make efforts to expedite the implementation of the circular economy in South Korean industries and harness it as a new growth engine," Choo added.

South Korea aims to foster stronger technology cooperation between conglomerates and small businesses, and promote their joint investment in processing facilities to build the supply chain of recycled resources, the government said.

On Wednesday, the government also announced plans to attract a combined private investment of 5 trillion won ($3.88 billion) through 2027 in the agricultural sector to beef up its competitiveness.

"Smart farming and food solutions that harness cutting-edge technologies, including information communication and artificial intelligence, portend high growth potential for the industry," the agricultural ministry said.

"We need to establish an ecosystem for private investment for the growth potential of the agricultural segment," it added.

The government vowed to promote investment of around 700 billion won by 2027 to support startups in areas that utilize state-of-the-art science technologies, including nuclear fusion and quantum technologies.

The number of startups focusing on research and development projects, which totaled 2,879 in 2022, is projected to increase to 5,500 by 2027, under the set goal, the science ministry said.

While 75 percent of such startups survived for at least five years in 2020, the figure is expected to increase to 85 percent in 2027, it added.

"There are still uncertainties surrounding the South Korean economy, including concerns over a global economic slowdown, along with the volatility of global energy prices," Choo said.

"While sparing no efforts to vitalize exports and investment, the government is committed to further enhancing the export competitiveness of our industries, and building a business-friendly environment," he added. (Yonhap)