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Convenience stores, internet cafes placed under plastic ban

Environment Ministry releases guideline on controversial single-use product ban

Barista pours coffee at a cafe in Seoul on March 30. (Yonhap)
Barista pours coffee at a cafe in Seoul on March 30. (Yonhap)


The Ministry of Environment on Tuesday issued specific guidelines for the restriction on the use of plastic products, specifying that all types of food service businesses, including convenience stores and internet cafes, come under the ban.

The government has banned restaurants, cafes, food stalls and bars from giving out single-use products for customers dining in. Single-use products are only available for takeout or delivery services.

The latest guideline says that all types of food service businesses, including restaurants, karaoke and entertainment bars and bakeries, are regulated by the restriction. This includes convenience stores and internet cafes that are registered as food service businesses.

The ban is imposed on single-use cups, single-use dishes and containers, single-use wooden chopsticks and toothpicks, single-use cutlery and more.

The Environment Ministry also gave out examples of single-use products that can be provided to in-store customers. For example, food products that are manufactured with packaging, such as ketchup and mustard, can be provided.

Lacquered wooden chopsticks that can be used multiple times can be provided, as well as toothpicks, only if there is a separate container for disposal.

Single-use products that are not mentioned as banned products, such as aprons, napkins and paper wrappers for cutlery, can also be used.

Preprepared foods, such as gimbap, sandwiches and salads, packed in single-use products are available for in-store dining.

The ban on single-use products returned Friday after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, following complaints from both business owners and customers, food service businesses have been exempt from fines until the virus crisis is resolved.

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)
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