[South Korea] Citizens’ voices are growing to improve the “recycling of cosmetics containers.” Recently, Korea’s Green Union collected 8,000 and 370 kilograms of cosmetics empty containers from 86 stores nationwide to verify their recyclability. The results were shocking. Citizens felt betrayed by the fact that it was difficult to recycle more than 90% of cosmetics containers.
The cosmetics industry, which has been producing containers that cannot be recycled despite its sustainability declaration and environmentally friendly management, cannot avoid the responsibility of controversy. The cosmetics industry announced the “2030 Declaration of Cosmetic Plastic Initiative” in January and said it would not mark the difficulty of recycling, and will remove 100% of products that are difficult to recycle by 2030. However, it did not have a specific action plan and ended up making a verbal declaration. Even with the declaration, citizens will still have to use non-recyclable cosmetic containers for another 10 years.
Citizens urge the cosmetics industry to change materials and structures into sustainable packaging that can be recycled and reused, and to announce short- and long-term material improvement goals and specific implementation plans. The Green Union says the cosmetics industry should listen to citizens and do the following:
First, the material of 90% cosmetic containers should be improved as soon as possible. To reduce plastic containers worldwide, various alternatives are being implemented, including using single material containers that are easy to recycle and removing metal springs from pumps. Referring to these cases, cosmetics packaging should be changed to recyclable materials.
Secondly, the cosmetics industry should have an effective recovery system for empty bottles. The proportion of online malls and H&B stores among cosmetics sales is high and is expected to increase further in the future. Large retail stores and H&B stores should also participate in container collections to increase recall rates. There shall be easy-to-return stores everywhere, and the collection of empty bottles by the store must become mandatory.
Thirdly, the cosmetics industry must establish a refill reuse system for resource circulation. A refill system should be established beyond individual practice. The cosmetics industry should start developing and distributing large-capacity refill products. In addition, the cosmetics industry should develop and distribute reusable containers that are easy to clean, dry, sterilize, and convenient to refill contents. It is necessary to diversify the items of reusable products so that consumers can replace only the contents themselves.
As the Green New Deal and carbon neutrality are valued, awareness of the resource cycle represented by plastic is increasing. A deplastic society is impossible without reducing the use of plastic and switching to packaging that can be reused by changing materials and structures.