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South Korea | Proposed Bill on Reduction and Management of Microplastics

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SOuth Korea has introduced a  special bill aimed at reducing and effectively managing the issue of microplastics. The proposed legislation, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Environment and Labor Committee, was submitted on June 5, 2023, and subsequently referred to the committee on June 7, 2023.

The bill addresses the growing concern over the widespread use and increasing production of plastics, leading to the generation of microplastics in various everyday items, including household goods and clothing. These microplastics pose a significant threat to both the environment and human health, as they can be inhaled or ingested through respiratory and digestive systems.

While some local governments have taken proactive measures by enacting bylaws to reduce microplastics, there is still a lack of concrete means to regulate their production, use, and disposal. The proposed legislation aims to establish a comprehensive framework, including conducting surveys on microplastic prevalence, regulating their use and discharge, and promoting technologies for reduction and removal, in order to protect public health and the environment from the hazards of microplastics.

The key provisions of the bill include defining microplastics as solid plastic particles measuring 5 millimeters or less that are non-biodegradable and categorizing them into primary and secondary microplastics based on their generation process. It imposes obligations on the national and local governments, businesses, and citizens to reduce and manage the occurrence and discharge of microplastics. Additionally, it mandates the formulation and implementation of a comprehensive "Microplastic Management Plan" every five years, along with the establishment of a "Microplastic Countermeasure Committee" to oversee the plan's execution and monitor progress.

Furthermore, the bill prohibits the sale, manufacturing, and importation of products containing primary microplastics that exceed safety standards and pose direct contact or exposure risks. It also prohibits the sale, manufacturing, and importation of plastics and electronic products that may discharge secondary microplastics beyond permissible limits during their production, distribution, use, or disposal.

To ensure compliance, the bill imposes obligations on waste generators and establishes measures for the prevention of microplastic discharge, such as the installation of prevention facilities by local governments to prevent microplastic leakage into rivers and lakes. In cases where microplastics are discharged into water bodies or oceans, responsible authorities, including the Minister of Environment, may impose collection and disposal measures.

The bill also mandates the government to conduct surveys, research, and development on microplastics and designate a Microplastic Research and Management Center to investigate and study preventive measures and health risks associated with microplastics. It further provides budgetary support for local governments or businesses that introduce technologies related to microplastic reduction and management in water and environmental facilities.

Citizens and stakeholders can submit their opinions and feedback on the proposed bill through the designated channels provided by the Environment and Labor Committee, either by visiting the committee's office or using the online submission system available during the legislation notice period.


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