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Ministry to work on new deposit system for single-use cups

May 19, 2022 - 16:03 By Im Eun-byel

A worker attaches a “recyclable label" on a disposable cup at a coffee shop in central Seoul on May 6. (Joint Press Corps)

The Ministry of Environment said Thursday it will announce more details on the new deposit refund scheme for single-use cups to ease the burden on small-business owners.

From June 10, franchise cafes, bakeries and fast-food franchises with more than 100 branches have to charge a 300 won (24 cent) deposit per single-use cup to customers.

The ministry said it would help businesses adapt to the new rules, after some franchisees complained about it being a burden.

“We empathize with the difficulty of small-business owners associated with the new deposit system for single-use cups,” the ministry said Wednesday. “We are taking a look into supporting business owners by covering the some of the expenses needed to operate the system.”

After holding a meeting with an association of small-business owners on Tuesday, the Container Deposit System Management Organization, in charge of running the new system, is discussing covering some of the necessary expenses.

The Environment Ministry said it will make an official announcement next week.

Under the new system set to be implemented in June, customers can get their deposits back after returning the used cups to the stores for recycling. Those who pick up disposable cups with the labels on the streets can return the cups and receive the deposits, too.

The ministry said customers should return the cups after washing them.

However, franchisees, who often own individual stores, have complained that the new measure is costly and extra work for them, as they have to purchase and attach “recyclable” labels to the cups. Also, they have to keep the cups until they are picked up by recyclers. Some 100 recyclers have been designated for the service by the ministry, while some 38,000 businesses in Korea will be required to follow the new scheme.

Some are also calling for the head offices of franchises to take more responsibility.

“Business owners have extra work, including purchasing and attaching the labels. Franchise head offices should support franchisees,” the Korea Federation for Environmental Movement said Thursday. “Franchise head offices’ lack of preparation for the new measure will result in the loss of customers, who are their consumers and franchisers.”

The ruling party called for the government to push back the launch of the new system.

“I ask the ministry to take immediate action such as revising the enforcement decree to postpone the launch of the new system and not to impose fines,” Rep. Sung Il-jong of the People Power Party said Wednesday.

“The new deposit system will increase the burden on small-business owners and might cause inflation,” the statement read.

By Im Eun-byel (