Expansion of Zero Waste Cafes, Restaurants, and Offices

THE Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) announced to reinforce its zero waste policy starting this year as the city’s plastic waste saw an increase by about 22% and plastic waste emissions per capita by about 24% following the pandemic and the rise in single-person households.

The city plans to establish a green lifestyle of reduced use of disposables by expanding the number of zero-waste cafes that do not serve disposable cups as well as zero-waste restaurants that use reusable containers in both private and public sectors.

The city aims to reach its goal of reducing the use of 10 million disposable cups by expanding the operation of zero-waste cafes to multi-use facilities such as workplace offices, stadiums, and movie theaters. In particular, the city will provide deposit-free reusable cups at certain venues, such as movie theaters, baseball stadiums, and royal palaces, allowing users to use and return reusable cups without paying any extra deposit fee.

Moreover, the city will promote the use of personal cups by piloting a “double discount” programme for tumbler users in the first half of the year, and also proceed with its “eco campaigners” programme targeting small and newly participating cafes. As for cafes, the city will also overhaul the current deposit refund scheme by producing standard reusable cups compatible with all cup return machines, reducing the inconvenience of limited refunds only for specific cups, and enhancing the sanitation standards for the returned cups.

As for restaurants, the city plans to introduce the use of reusable containers to stores, facilities, festivals, and funeral halls located in Seoul this year. In particular, the city also plans to expand the scope of its reusable container service for delivery apps to 10 districts this year.

Seoul plans to promote various policies in both private and public sectors so that citizens can become accustomed to using tumblers at cafes and reusable containers at restaurants in an effort to counter the significant increase in the use of disposable plastics during the pandemic in the past two years.