Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

Extended Producer Responsibility was introduced to promote the reduction, reuse and recycling of waste by encouraging manufacturers to consider the environment through the whole process of product design, manufacturing, distribution, consumption and disposal.

Prior to introducing the EPR, the Wastes Deposit Program had been implemented since 1992 as a way to strengthen the role of manufacturers regarding recycling. The Wastes Deposit Program allowed manufacturers to deposit a cost in proportion to their production output and retrieve it in the amount in proportion to their records in reuse. It was designed to encourage businesses to make effort to recycle by offering financial incentives, but the system faced criticism because companies simply paid the charge and did not make actual reuse efforts.

Under these circumstances, the Waste Deposit Program was abolished and EPR was introduced to ensure the practical efforts of businesses. After a preparatory period that began with seven items, including electronic products, between 2000 and 2002 with a voluntary agreement between the government and industry, the full-fledged Extended Producer Responsibility system was introduced in 2003. The total amount of recycling has grown from 938,000 tons in 2002 to 1,519,000 tons in 2012, an increase of about 62%, which implies quantitative growth in the recycling sector.

At the time of the initial operation of EPR in 2003, the target items were limited to products and packaging containers such as paper packs, glass bottles, metal cans, synthetic resin packaging, batteries, tires, lubricants and electronic products, but the list of applicable items has been consistently increased to include the items shown in <Table 7-3>4).
4) According to the Eco-Assurance System (ECOAS), which began after the Act on Resource Circulation of Electrical and Electronic Equipment and Vehicles was implemented, not only recycling of electrical and electronic goods, but also their use of harmful substances are controlled. For more information, see the Program for Ensuring Environmentality in Electrical & Electronic Products and Automobiles in the following chapter.

EPR Target Items

If manufacturers subject to mandatory recycling fail to meet their targets, they should pay fees. The fees are imposed on less than 130% of the actual recycling cost per item, and vary depending on the recycling performance rate. If manufacturers exceed their targets, the amounts that surpassed the targets can be used for 2 years.

Since 2008, the long-term recycling targets for 5 years have been announced to help manufacturers establish recycling plans from a long-term perspective.

In addition, electric and electronic products such as TVs, refrigerators, washing machines, computers and mobile phones are designated as items subject to mandatory recovery through retail stores. In other words, the retailers of electronic and electrical products should collect waste electric and electrical products and the packaging of new products free of charge when purchasers ask them to do so after they purchase new products.

Program for Ensuring Environmentality in Electrical & Electronic Products and Automobiles

Eco-Assurance System (ECOAS) for Electrical & Electronic Products and Automobiles is concerned with creating a resource circulation system encompassing the whole process from design and production to disuse in order to control the use of harmful substances and thus facilitate recycling.

To support this program, Korea implemented the Act on the Resource Circulation of Electrical and Electronic Products and Vehicles in April 2007. Prior to the enactment of the law, the government implemented a guideline on examination of preliminary recycling of electrical and electronic products and vehicles and restriction of their use of harmful substances. However, their feasibility was not satisfactory, and the follow-up management at the disposal stage was conducted through EPR, but was limited to electrical and electronic products.

The main contents of the Act on the Resource Circulation of Electrical and Electronic Products and Vehicles are as follows. First, businesses are encouraged to use eco-friendly and easy-to-recycle raw materials in the production stage and are made to assess and evaluate their compliance with standards on the inclusion of harmful substances.

Second, every manufacturer or importer of electrical and electronic products and every manufacturer or importer of vehicles must provide people who are engaged in the recycling business with information about recycling, including the composition of materials, contents of harmful substances and dismantling methods, to help those persons pursue their recycling businesses.

Third, the law clarifies the roles of interest groups related to the recycling of end-of-life vehicles. Manufacturers or importers of vehicles should make efforts to develop and distribute recycling technology and provide financial and technical assistance. Persons who run a business of dismantling vehicles and persons who run a business of recycling residual scrap should recycle resources from end-of-life vehicles as much as possible, and recycling methods and standards for end-of-life vehicles were established to promote proper recycling.

Fourth, every automotive dismantler should separately collect and store substances that affect the climate and ecosystem such as freon gas. Every vehicle scrap recycler must separately discharge residual scrap generated from end-of-life vehicles after collecting metals, and the expenses needed for treatment and recycling is deducted from the price of end-of-life vehicles.

Food Waste Recycling

Although the Ministry of Environment put a priority on reducing the generation of food waste as its basic direction of food waste management policy, it is also actively promoting recycling of food waste inevitably generated as organic resources despite the reduction efforts. Food waste can be turned into valuable resources such as feed and fertilizer since they contain organic substances and nutritive components.

Food Waste Generation and Treatment

To that end, the developer of a housing and tourist complex was made to mandatorily install a facility to convert food wastes into resources in December 1997. According to the “Fundamental Plan on Food Waste Recycling” established in 1998, the reduction target and implementation measures are to reduce the total amount of generated food waste by more than 10% and recycle the total amount of food waste by more than 60% by 2002. In 2004, Comprehensive Measure for Reducing Food Wastes was established. As a result, 96% of the total amount of generated food waste (13,209 tons/day) is used as recycling materials, such as feed and compost, as of 2012.

As of the end of 2013, a total of 185.1 billion won has been used to fund the installation of public facilities to convert food wastes into resources, and vehicle purchases for 130 businesses and 926 billion won was loaned to a total of 2,227 private businesses from the Recycling Industry Promotion Fund to assist related technology development and facility installation in the private sector.

Construction Waste Recycling Promotion

Construction waste has increased consistently, from around 53 million tons in 2003 to around 68 million tons in 2012, due to the requirements of the domestic construction industry, and it makes up more than half of the total amount of business waste.

The recycling rate of construction waste has increased continuously, to 97.3% in 2012, thanks to the government’s recycling policy, and thus the landfill rate has been gradually decreasing. However, most of the construction waste is recycled at a low level, such as mounding and backfill, and the real recycling rate of high-value-added waste resources such as aggregates and asphalt remains at 32.3% due to negative perception and reluctance to use them. Under these circumstances, the government has been implementing various policies with an aim to increase the rate of recycling of resources with high added value to 45% by 2016.

Construction Waste Treatment Status (as of 2012)

As for the proper treatment and recycling of construction waste, Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport has divided their roles and implemented them. The Ministry of Environment established the Construction Waste Recycling Promotion Act, which was put into effect in January 2005, to provide the legal ground to treat construction waste in an eco-friendly manner and recycle waste to create high-value resources.

According to the law, recycled aggregates should be mandatorily used for the construction of roads, industrial complexes and environmental infrastructure. In 2013, the revision of the enforcement ordinance and regulations specified the treatment methods for construction waste. Based on the revision, the asphalt concrete waste used for simple mounding and backfill should be separately discharged and stored away from other construction waste, and the recycling of asphalt concrete waste was restricted to road construction.

To guarantee the quality of recycled aggregates, the government introduced a quality certification system for recycled aggregates in January 2007 and implemented quality standards for recycled aggregate products by use in 2012.

Moreover, information related to the transfer of construction waste through the process of discharge, collection and transportation, and treatment should be inserted into an electronic information treatment program to manage construction waste in a transparent and effective way. Also, a construction waste information management system has been in place that provides information related to the production status, quality, demand and supply of recycled aggregates to directly link manufacturers and consumers.

Exchange of Resources used by the Circulation

The Exchange of Resources used by the Circulation is an online marketplace between waste suppliers and waste consumers. This system allows waste suppliers to register information about types, properties, quantity and quality of wastes with the online exchange, and then waste consumers can use this information on the nearest business operations, prices, regions and quality to find and purchase optimal products. Starting from the second half of 2014, a distribution assistance service intermediating between businesses engaging in waste discharge and waste treatment, a GIS-based search function, and an electronic bidding system were additionally introduced to the system to dramatically activate the trade of high-value-added waste resources.

Mission of the Exchange of Resources used by the Circulation

This program was initiated in 2012 as a pilot program using synthetic resin wastes, secondhand home appliances, furniture and baby products. It produced tangible results, with a total of 690,000 trades accomplished by the end of July 2014.

The government plans to strengthen support for this program, including expanding source of demand and creating new markets for waste resources, by activating the functions of the Exchange in preparation for strengthening various recycling-related policies in the future, including landfill and incineration charges and prohibition of direct disposal in landfills.

Fostering the Recycling Industry and Expanding Related Infrastructure

In an effort to foster the fledging domestic recycling industry, the government provides long-term, low-interest rate loan support for facility installation, commercialization of development technology, technology development, management stability and distribution and sales of recycling businesses. An analysis of loan support for small-scale waste recycling businesses shows a total of 1,064 billion won was loaned to 2,614 businesses from 1994 to 2013.

Meanwhile, as the recovery of recyclable resources significantly increased due to the positive results of the recycling policy, there is a growing need to expand infrastructure, including facilities for gathering and selecting recycling resources. To meet this requirement, the government has been implementing a project to substitute and convert the public recycling infrastructure of local governments to modern facilities since 2000. As of 2013, a total of 147.4 billion won was used to fund 394 business operations for the installation and improvement of collection facilities (local governments shared 30% of the total expenses).

For more information, please contact us :
Public Relations Team  (mepr@korea.kr)   
Last modified : 2017-12-12 08:38

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