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Plastic waste recycling rate South Korea 2008-2018

The recycling rate of plastic waste in South Korea was around 44.8 percent in 2018, with approximately 8,100 pieces of household plastic waste generated every day. The plastic recycling rate has stayed between 40 percent and 50 percent over the past decade. The average recycling rate for municipal waste in South Korea stood at over 50 percent.

Plastic waste in South Korea

Recently, over 450 thousand tons of single-use plastic bags were used in South Korea, along with 70 thousand tons of PET bottles. The government and companies have taken steps to try and reduce plastic consumption, for example, the government now charges fees for single-use plastic bags and recommends paper bags instead. Companies are creating plastic products that use less plastic, such as water bottles with slimmer caps.

Plastic waste management and treatment

In 2017, around 22.7 percent of plastic waste was recycled as material and 39.3 percent as energy. The rest of them were either simply incinerated or thrown to landfills. South Korea seems to have a capable waste recycling system, with citizens separating waste before throwing it out. The problem is that after citizens do their job, waste management companies must further separate plastic waste. Not all plastic waste is the same; a PET bottle is different from a plastic cup. There are even plastics composed of several different plastics. In many cases, companies simply cannot afford to properly separate plastics and it causes that a lot of plastic waste was simply discarded.

Recycling rate of plastic waste in South Korea from 2008 to 2018

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Release date



South Korea

Survey time period

2008 to 2018

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Statistics on "Plastic waste in South Korea"

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