Together for a Sustainable Future

South Korea Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) System

by Lorraine Li
Feb 06, 2024

Over decades, waste management has been under government's responsibility but showed limited effects as the resolution of environmental problems relies on the engagement of various parties. As per OECD, the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) brings an ecological policy approach,which extends the producer’s responsibility for products to the post-consumer stage of a product’s life cycle. EPR shifts the responsibility upstream toward the producer, pushing enterprises to take environmental considerations into account during product design.

In South Korea, the EPR scheme assigns a certain recycling mount to product manufacturers, importers, and sellers who use packaging materials for their products. It requires enterprises to recycle the waste generated from their products and packaging materials. For any failure in compliance, they will face high recycling fees that exceed the cost of recycling. 

Part 1 Competent Authority

In South Korea, the Ministry of Environment (MOE) is responsible for the overall operation of the legislation, including publishing the annual obligatory recycling rates, providing support to local governments and the Korea Environment Corporation (KECO), etc.

In addition, the Korea Environment Corporation (KECO or KEC), is also an important administration. Although not a government agency, KECO is a semi-official organization downstream from the MOE. It is responsible for inspecting packaging, confirming the materials’ recyclability grades, and handling other sustainability-related matters.

Part 2. Main Regulations






Framework Act on Resources Circulation

This act provides a framework for environmental resource management in South Korea.

2020. 5. 26

In force

Wastes Control Act

This act details the provisions related to waste management. The term "wastes" in this act means such materials as garbage, burnt refuse, sludge, waste oil, waste acid, waste alkali, and carcasses of animals, which have become no longer useful for human life or business activities.

2023. 4. 27.

In force

Resources Recycling Act

This act provides the general requirements related to resource reuse. It specifies the provisions regarding control of packing wastes generation, separate collection of recyclable resources, recycling obligation, etc.

2023. 3. 28

In force

Enforcement Decree of  Resources Recycling Act

This regulation is a subordinated act of Resources  Recycling Act. It mainly specifies the administrative issues for governments’ reference. 

2021. 11. 23

In force

Enforcement Rule of Resources Recycling Act

This regulation is a subordinated act of Resources Recycling Act. It mainly details the standards for enterprise to follow.  

2023. 4. 19.

In force

Annual Recycling Rates of Products and Packaging Materials in 2024

This regulation is an MOE notification which sets the target recycling rates of each packaging material in 2023.

2024. 1. 1

In force

Notification on Certification Procedure and Label for Recycling Obligation Performance

This regulation is an MOE notification that specifies provisions for obtaining the certification of fulfilling the recycling obligation and labeling the mark.

 2018. 2. 9.

In force

Part 3. EPR System

In South Korea, manufacturers and importers of the specified products and packaging materials should recycle a certain amount of the waste generated from their products and packaging materials. For any failure in compliance, they will face high recycling fees that exceed the cost of recycling. These manufacturers and importers are referred to as "producers obligated to recycle (포장재의 재활용의무생산자)”.

3.1 Product and Packaging Materials subject to EPR

The Product and packaging materials subject to EPR are as below:


• 5 types of film products made of synthetic resin, except for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) materials:

(a) Air-filled films used for buffer packing or insulation;

(b) Films used to protect fur products, clothes, and other textile products in the washing and dry cleaning services according to the Korea Standard Industry Code

(c) Plastic bags (except for standard plastic garbage bags)

(d) Disposable plastic gloves

(e) Wrap films for food packing

• Batteries

• Tires

• Lubircant

• Fluorescent Lamps

• Buoys for sea farm

• Films for bale silage

• Seaweed yard beds made of synthetic resin

• Industrial films

• Purifier filters for replacement

• Safety nets

• Fish nets

• Ropes

• Polyethylene tubes

• Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) products

• Household products made of polypropylene

• Pallets

• Plastic boxes for carrying

• Window and door frames

• Flooring products

• Insulators for building

• Power/communication lines

• Parts for vehicle maintenance

• LED lightings



• Paper packs, cans, glass bottles, synthetic resin packaging materials of: Beverages, Agricultural/Aquatic/Livestock Products, Detergents, Cosmetics, Medicines and Quasi Drugs, Butane gas, Pesticides and disinfectants, Clothes, Sanitary paper products, Rubber gloves, Antifreeze, Brake fluid, and Lubricant (applicable to packaging materials using synthetic resin only);

• Cushion materials such as film/sheet packaging and foam cushion for electrical and mechanical products;

• Disposal bags and shopping bags (except for standard plastic garbage bags)

3.2 Mandatory Recycling Amount

The recycling amount of the products and packaging materials is calculated by multiplying the quantity of products or packaging materials manufactured or imported in the current year (obligation fulfillment year) by the recycling obligation rate.

 Mandatory Recycling Amount = (quantity of products or packaging materials) x (recycling obligation rate) 

MOE will establish long-term recycling target every five years and sets the annual recycling obligation rate to facilitate the collection and recycling of products and packaging materials for producers’ reference. The recycling rate for each packaging material in 2024 is included in the Annual Recycling Rates of Products and Packaging Materials in 2024.

3.3 Fulfillment of EPR Obligation

Producers obligated to recycle packaging are required to pay a sharing fee(분담금) to the Recycling Business Mutual Aid Cooperatives (재활용사업공제조합) for collectively fulfilling the recycling obligations. Recycling Business Mutual Aid Cooperatives will submit the recycling plan to KECO and delegate waste disposal institutes to collect and recycle the packaging materials.

For the enterprises who choose not the fulfil the EPR obligation, can either conduct the recycling by themselves or by proxy. In this case, the enterprises should submit the recycling plan to the KECO and find the qualified institutes for waste collecting and recycling.

The plan for fulfilling the packaging collection and recycling obligation should be submitted to KECO every January for a confirmation, after which the relevant party can begin to conduct the collection and recycling of packaging.  

The producers obligated to recycle are required to report the recycling performance and the result of obligation fulfilling to KECO before the April 15 and April 30 of the next year individually.

When failing in fulfilling the EPR obligation, enterprises will be charged with the recycling fees (재활용부과금) by MOE . The amount of recycling fees can be calculated via the tool provided by the authority.

The EPR timeline is as below:

EPR timeline.jpg


3.4 Recycling Obligation Fulfilling Mark

For the “producers obligated to recycle packaging” that has fulfilled their recycling obligations , a Recycling Obligation Fulfilling Mark can be label on the product.


(Recycling Obligation Fulfilling Mark)

Enterprises intending to use the Recycling Obligation Fulfilling Mark should apply for a confirmation of the EPR obligation fulfilment at first. The application documents include:

  • Application form

  • Copy of business license

  • Confirmation of recycling obligation fulfilment plan

  • Confirmation of the results of the fulfilment of recycling obligations

The validity period is two years. Enterprises can apply for an extension before the expiry.

Lorraine Li
ChemLinked Senior Regulatory Analyst
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