WITH worldwide oil shortages, Korean industry is playing its part in oil production, with over 70% of Korean 'responsible producer' members united in their efforts to recycle plastic packaging, which is processed and converted into new plastic recycled products, oil and fuel. (Responsible producers take full responsibility for recycling and disposal of their products).
The Korea Plastic Recycling Association (KPRA) which comprises 1,859 responsible producer members and 400 recycling business members are working with central and local government, plus consumers, to recycle plastic packaging and containers.
The KPRA operates a low-cost, efficient business, recycling waste plastic containers and packaging that comprise a large part of general waste. This recycled plastic converts to new plastic products and plastic renewable energy such as waste plastic recycled oil and Refuse Plastic Fuel (RPF).
Korea's Ministry of Environment (MOE) implemented an Extended Producer Responsibility System (EPRS) in 2003 to reduce waste generation and promote waste recycling.
The EPRS is based on the premise that the primary responsibility for waste, generated during the production process and the discarded product, is that of the manufacturer. It has established a waste management system designed to increase the overall rate of recycling.
The MOE through EPRS imposes on the manufacturer or the manufacturer of products that use the packaging a quota on recycling of product or packaging material waste. If the quota is not complied with, the manufacturer is fined an amount higher than the cost of implementing recycling.
The KPRA has established nationwide collection, separation and recycling networks plus set up agreements with local government and collecting/separating/recycling companies.
The Association also allocates recycling amounts to its member manufacturers and actively promotes recycling in the community. Bins are available for consumers in their local areas to dispose of plastic containers and plastic film packaging.
Travelling around Korea, the strong emphasis on recycling plastic containers, plastic wrapping as well as other recyclable material is very noticeable.
There are municipal recycling collection points with individual bags for recycling plastic containers, food and confectionary plastic wrapping plus other recyclables at several locations in Korea, as observed by this writer.
When patrons leave cinemas, enthusiastic cinema staff collect plastic film wrapping, plastic bottles, cans and drink containers and place them in separate bins for collection by recycling companies.
Converting plastic to fuel
The recycling companies convert plastic waste into regenerated raw materials (flakes and pellets), synthetic oil (through melting, pyrolysis and cooling) and Refuse Plastic Fuel (RPF) produced through solidification of waste.
RPF is used for fuelling facilities, such as cement kilns, power plants, industrial boilers and greenhouse heating facilities.
KPRA operates a model liquefaction and RPF plant for developing and spreading the recycling technology for composite plastics.
Korean renewable energy company, Pulse Energy converts plastic and other waste into recycled oil and carbon using a Nodix 8000 furnace (Nodix means no dioxin).
The company's marketing and planning manager, Jung-Woo Oh said waste is not limited to plastics, tyres and rubber; but includes municipal, industrial, construction and household waste.
Oh says the daily production rate of 30t of plastic waste produces around 23,000L of recycled oil, (used by energy company distributor and factories), approximately 3t of carbon material, (end users include rubber producer and construction company) and around 5.4t of gas, used as fuel for the furnace.
"The average conversion rate is around 60%, so on an annual basis with 10,000t of waste recycled by Pulse Energy, we produce around 6,000t of oil," Oh said proudly.
As well as plastic packaging waste, other items subject to EPR in Korea include fluorescent lamps, audio products, mobile communication devices, printers, copiers, fax machines, cosmetics, and most batteries.
Since EPRS first commenced in 2003, 6,069,000t of waste resources have been recycled over the 5-year period - in which the production of EPR items increased by 11.6%, and the amount of the items recycled increased by 32.3%.
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