S. Korea to phase out industrial waste imports
South Korea will prohibit or restrict industrial waste importations to increase the recycling of domestic waste.
According to the Ministry of Environment, the importation of waste plastics, mixed waste paper, and waste fibers will be prohibited in 2022 since these can either be replaced with domestic waste or have made the local recycling market unstable due to their collection problems.
In 2023, South Korea will ban the importation of coal ash and waste tires while restricting used corrugated cardboard, dust, and sludge.
The South Korean government pledged to ensure a stable supply of alternatives to the five waste items subject to import bans.
Eventually, imports of all industrial waste types, excluding metal scraps and a few others, will be banned in principle by 2030, those of 10 other waste items with large import volumes will be restricted or prohibited.
Only waste cardboard with better quality than domestic waste paper will be permitted for importation.
The importation of waste batteries, waste metals, and waste electrical and electronic products, recycled for valuable metals, will not be affected by the restrictions.
According to ministry officials, such items have high industrial raw material value and cannot be easily replaced by domestic waste.
The 10 banned or restricted waste items will amount to 3.84 million tons annually, accounting for 96 percent of South Korea's annual waste imports of 3.98 million tons.