|A pork meal comes in 10 plastic containers when ordered via a food delivery app. The Ministry of Environment plans to survey the use of plastic and other disposable containers in food delivery services in an effort to reduce the use of plastic. / Korea Times file|
By Jung Hae-myoung
The Ministry of Environment will conduct a survey on plastic use in food delivery service in the first half of the year as a preliminary to regulate on plastic use in the industry, the ministry said, Monday.
Currently, there are no regulations on using plastic products for food containers or disposable cutlery when using delivery services on smartphone applications, although the industry is expanding rapidly.
"Through this survey, we are trying to find out exactly how much plastic is used for delivering food and to come up with an appropriate solution on which part we can focus on in reducing plastic waste," said Park Jung-chul, deputy director of the ministry's Resources and Circulation Bureau.
According to Park, the survey will focus on how much and what materials are used in food delivery, and to what extent it affects the environment.
The government is planning to start with delivery service providers' voluntary efforts rather than enforcing regulations immediately.
"Based on the survey, we are trying to sign an agreement with the delivery app companies to voluntarily reduce their use of plastic," Park added.
The agreement may include using a single plastic box with dividers instead of using separate plastic containers for each side dish.
The ministry said it would reflect feedback from the service providers and side effects before finalizing and enforcing regulations. The app companies say regulations on plastic containers may lead to an increase in delivery food prices, as there are no cheaper materials that can replace plastic and the labor cost will rise if they use reusable bowls and pick them up later like Chinese food delivery services do.
"We cannot predict how delivery app companies may react, but we are considering voluntary agreement as the first option," the official said.