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MOE’s New Waste Recycling Regulations


The Ministry of Environment (“MOE”) pronounced its commitment to actively reform regulations on waste recycling. In particular, the MOE will (i) relax the standards for wastes to be recognized as circular resources, (ii) facilitate manufacturing of various plastic products using pyrolysis oil from waste plastics as raw material for petrochemical products, and (iii) stimulate recycling of carbon dioxide captured by Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (“CCUS”) technologies.

  • Amendment to the Enforcement Decree of the Framework Act on Resource Circulation: On August 31, 2022, the MOE published a proposed amendment to the Enforcement Decree of the Framework Act on Resource Circulation, seeking public comments for 40 days. Acknowledging the criticism that the current circular resource recognition standards are ineffective for being too strict, the proposed amendment seeks to simplify the nine standards to recognize circular resources1 into two standards: (i) circular resources shall not be incinerated, buried in landfill, or discharged into the sea and (ii) circular resources shall only be used for the intended use specified at the time of registration (c.f., other standards on environment-friendly and economic value will continue to apply). The MOE intends to finalize the proposed amendment based on public comments and implement the same within the year. 

  • Waste plastic pyrolysis oil: Through its Proactive Governance Committee, the MOE decided to allow waste plastic pyrolysis oil, which could only have been recycled as fuel (auxiliary fuel for furnace), to be used as raw material for petrochemical products. This was part of the proposed amendment to the Enforcement Rule of the Wastes Control Act announced on March 4, 2022 along with, among others, the establishment of installation and inspection standards for pyrolysis facilities and details of recycling standards.

  • Carbon dioxide captured by CCUS technologies: Through its Proactive Governance Committee, the MOE decided to allow carbon dioxide captured by CCUS technologies to be used in manufacturing construction materials (e.g., aggregate, cement, and concrete) as well as rubber, fiber, or synthetic resin products. The MOE plans to implement this change through an amendment to the Wastes Control Act.

In light of the recent technological advancement in recycling, there has been a demand that waste-related laws and regulations adopt new technologies more flexibly. The MOE’s plan to improve regulations on waste recycling appears to coincide with such demand. As the MOE is expected to actively amend relevant laws and regulations in the process of implementing the above plan, it is advisable to closely monitor legislative trends and inform the MOE of any necessary regulatory improvements that are essential for business operations.


[Korean Version]


1 If recognized as a circular resource, only annual production performance will be reviewed, and waste-related regulations will be exempt.


Related Topics

#Wastes #Recycling