Representative recycling promotion policies include Extended Producer Responsibility, Program for Ensuring Environmentality in Electrical & Electronic Products and Automobiles, and Construction Wastes Reuse Program, which are described as follows.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

Background and Significance of the Policy Establishment

Resources that lie in cities and in wastes discarded in living spaces are larger than those still kept in nature. Because we just did not have the technology for extracting them and it cost a lot to do so, the importance of converting wastes to resource wasn't highlighted in the past. Entering into the 1990s and the first decade of the new millennium, however, the aggravating environmental crisis ensuing resources and energy depletion as well as climate change domestically and globally, epochal advancement in wastes retrieving and recycling technology helped mature the conditions for the transition to a resource circulating society that maximizes the recirculated resources generated from wastes by reuse, recycle, and recovery.
Along with such social atmosphere, the programs for reusing wastes were introduced, which included Separate Garbage Collection of 1991, and Wastes Deposit Program of 1995. Entering into the first decade of the new millennium, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), extended and developed from Wastes Deposit System, was implemented.
EPR shares historical context with Wastes Deposit System. The System allows manufacturers to deposit a cost in proportion to their production output and retrieve it in the amount in proportion to their records in reuse. But the system has faced persistent criticism for being ineffective in that the unretrieved deposits return to the national funds while companies simply pay the charge and do not make actual efforts to reuse. Under such circumstances, there emerged a talk of introducing EPR, which had been practiced in countries with advanced environmental practices including Germany and Japan with the purpose of strengthening the producer responsibility for reusing disused products. And through the preparatory period that begun in 2000 with electronic products to 2002 that covered a total of 7 items with a voluntary agreement between the government and industry, Act on Promotion of Saving and Recycling of Resources (Article 16) was amended on February 4, 2002 to start a full-fledged implementation in 2003 of Extended Producer Responsibility that would strengthen producer responsibility from production to after-use retrieval and recycle of products.
 EPR literally ensures a manufacturer to design a product that is easy to recycle and takes responsibility for reusing the product when it is discarded.  Currently, a total of 25 items that we frequently discharge as residential wastes are designated for EPR, and they include packaging containers such as metal cans, glass bottles, PET bottles, and plastics, and electronic products such as computers, refrigerators, and washing machines.


More than a decade has passed since the start of the voluntary agreement in 2000. In fact, it is not too much to say that Korea's recycling market was created and has been developed thanks to EPR. Recycling businesses have sharply multiplied, while their size of operation has grown to that of a small-and-medium-sized company. The public awareness on separate garbage collection and recycling has changed and now regards wastes as reusable resources, while much of the previous, negative perception of recycled products has faded away.
Looking at the numerical representation of the erstwhile outcome since the enforcement of EPR in 2003, the total amount of recycling has grown by around 46%, which has achieved an economic benefit of about KRW 5.1 trillion, an employment of 8,570 persons, and a reduction of about 4 million tons of greenhouse gas. Meanwhile, recycling infrastructure has been extended and recycling reinvigoration system has been set up, thus contributing to recycling market.

Program for Ensuring Environmentality Electrical & Electronic Products and Automobiles

Background and Significance of the Policy Establishment

Eco-Assurance System(ECOAS) is concerned with promoting environmental conservation and a sound development of the national economy by creating a resource circulation system encompassing the whole process from design and production to disuse in order to promote recycling by ensuring a domestic manufacture of electrical & electronic products and automobiles that controls the use of harmful substances and thus facilitates recycling, and by supporting through the constraint on the import of environmentally hazardous products and upgraded competitiveness of domestic products in the domestic environment as well as the domestic market.
To this end, businesses are encouraged to create a precautionary management system that includes assessment of compliance of standards on inclusion of harmful substances, assessment of compliance with year-by-year reusability of automobiles, enhancement of material composition of electrical & electronic products, and provision of information on recycling, and a resource circulation system through the use of eco-friendly and easy-to-recycle raw materials that do not include harmful substances. Furthermore, mandatory reuse ratios are imposed on different electrical & electronic products to push for the creation of after-use recycle management system that includes fulfillment of recycling responsibility and achievement of recycle ratio for disused automobiles.
As a large amount of wastes generated from mass production and mass consumption continue to aggravate environmental pollution in the contemporary society and thus accelerate the depletion of natural resources, the problem needs to be addressed through appropriate resource circulation. In particular, disused electrical & electronic products and automobiles, which include large amounts of metal and non-metal resources, urgently demand an adequate system for recycling and resource circulation.
Advanced countries enforce a variety of environmental regulations on electrical & electronic and automobile industry more strictly to serve the cause of sustainable development, and such regulations as WEEE, RoHS are expected to influence the export of domestic companies.
Accordingly, on January 1, 2008, Korea has implemented an Act on the Resource Circulation of Electrical and Electronic Equipment and Vehicles for resource circulation and environmental conservation in a joint legislation by the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Knowledge & Economy, and the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs.
Act on the Resource Circulation of Electrical and Electronic Equipment and Vehicles as an extension of EPR that had been implemented since 1992 aims to ensure a preliminary management that emphasizes a manufacturer's role for improvement of the environmentality of a product as well as enhanced recycling of disused products. Since promotion of recycling requires manufacturers to consider recycling in production of all products so that disused products may be easily recycled at a low cost, the implementation of an artificial support program that would enable recycling of wastes that are not recirculated in a spontaneous market, or the obligation of specific agents with recycle, are reflected in ECOAS.


An analytical assessment of the 3-year performance following the implementation of ECOAS shows that 2,283 business operations are participating in the program, 948 operations (71%) up from the year of 2008, while disused electrical & electronic products reuse ratio was 21%, a 9% increase from 2003 when EPR was still in force and a 3% increase from 2008 when ECOAS was in its early stage of implementation. For the last 3 years, product shipment has decreased by 3.5% but reuse ratio has increased by 19%, while mandatory fulfillment ratio has registered an average of 119%, exceeding 100% for three consecutive years.

Electrical & Electronic Product Output and Reused Amount


Disused vehicle recycling rate has continued to improve, registering an overall increase of 2.8% from 82.5% in 2008 to 85.3% in 2012. The law specifies recycling rate per scrapped vehicle as 85% until 2014 and 95% after 2015, and it is yet to be seen whether the goal will be achieved. The reasons include the legal structure that imposes responsibility on a multiple number of recycling agents and debilitates a uniform responsibility, the cumbersome, costly stage left out by recycling focused on current value for lack of clear accountability, and the limitations of upgrading of environmental improvement and recycling rate due to small scale of scrapped vehicle business.

The economic benefits from the implementation of ECOAS include a saved cost of KRW 257.6 billion in after-use treatment of harmful substances, KRW 82.9 billion in reusing disused electrical & electronic products, and employment of 215 persons (for KRW 79.8 billion), while in contribution to responding to climatic change, it reduces 123,563 tons of CO2 in electrical & electronic sector and 1,908,688 tons of CO2 in automobile.

Construction Wastes Recycling Promotion

Background and Significance of the Policy Establishment

Despite the measures such as requiring local governments to use recycled aggregates and recycled asphalt, establishment of quality standards and quality certification for recycled aggregates, the use of recycled aggregates remains meager on construction sites, while it is applied mostly to low-level uses like mounding and backfill.
Accordingly, the Ministry of Environment has developed various policies to increase the use of recycled aggregates and explore more fundamental, high-quality uses for them, while it has implemented such policies as nationwide public campaign, development of pilot projects, development of information management system, and creation of a close cooperation with related ministries.
As construction wastes continue to grow, taking up over 50% of total wastes with the improvement of residential environment as well as the active rebuilding and redevelopment, and the taking of natural aggregates causes damage to environment, securing alternative resources has become an urgent task.
Therefore, the Ministry has come up with Construction Waste Recycling Promotion Act and Program for Mandatory Use and Quality Certification of Recycled Aggregates, to provide substitutes for natural aggregates and contribute to the development of national economy and public well-being by appropriately treating and promoting the reuse of construction wastes generated in the implementation of a construction project.
The relevant legal basis includes Construction Waste Recycling Promotion Act, Enforcement Decree, and Enforcement Regulations, Regulations on Recycled Aggregates Quality Certification and Management, and Announcement on Uses and Mandatory Used Amount of Recycled Aggregates and Recycled Aggregates and Products Using Recycled Aggregates in Construction Projects Required to Use Recycled Aggregates etc.


The application of recycled aggregates to high-value-added uses (represented in Real Reuse Ratio and Natural Aggregates Substitution Ratio) grew nearly twofold from 17.0% in 2006 to 33.0% in 2011, and the economic value created therewith is estimated at KRW 2.5 trillion.
Record of developing construction waste conversion to high-value-added resource is quite impressive, which is represented by the fact that since October 31, 2012, 38 new environment technologies and 3 new constructional technologies were developed and applied by 470 or so manufacturers across the country.
The stable creation of Construction Wastes Information Management System works in preventing unauthorized disposal of construction wastes through the entire process from discharge, treatment, reuse, and burial of construction wastes, thus only about one case of abandoned waste is generated each year.

Last modified : 2013-10-29 17:02

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