Although Seoul has a policy of curbing the use of various disposable products and plastics to protect the natural environment, the usage of disposable cups has not decreased, and the enforcement on the use of disposable plastic bags has been found to be inadequate. There are many voices on the field saying that policy effectiveness cannot be secured due to ambiguity and strict regulations.
Since September last year, Seoul has banned the use of disposable items in office spaces, conference rooms, shops, and cafes. Since the beginning of this year, it is forbidden to bring single-use paper cups and plastics such as takeout coffee and food into the government building.
'Disposable Cup Recovery Bin' is installed at the entrance of Seoul City Hall and Seosomun Office. If employees or citizens enter the building with takeaway disposable coffee, they must drop the cups and residues into a container and enter the building.
Disposable cups put into the collecting container are about 200 liters daily. Daily disposable cups of two 100-liter garbage bags are being collected each day.
The city has promoted the reduction of disposable supplies with the installation of collection containers, but the collection volume of disposable cups has not changed much. The amount lingers around 200 liters per day, depending on the weather.
Although city officials are advising civilians and citizens not to enter the building with disposable cups at the entrance, they cannot forcefully take them away because there is no basis in the law.
A city official said, "There are some people who don't know that they are prohibited from bringing them, and some people unavoidably bring them in. Since plastic ban has not officially became a law, being too aggressive about it may violate an individual's freedom. Therefore, we cannot block one who is holding a disposable cup from entering the office or forcefully take it away."
Given this situation, there may be a delay in the city's plan to expand the disposable cups collection bins.
Starting next year, the city plans to install disposable cup collection bins in private workplaces that receive administrative and financial support from the city and cafes in private consignment facilities to prohibit them from entering the building.