Best Practices for Resource Circulation in the Food and Beverage Industry in Korea
In South Korea, the food and beverage industry is a relatively low carbon-emitting industry. However, there is rising concern due to the increase in food packaging wastes from the non-face-to-face lifestyle COVID-19 has brought.
Accordingly, the food industry is making preemptive efforts to use recyclable resources in a reasonable manner and achieve a circular economy. Twenty of Korea’s leading food and beverage corporations released a booklet highlighting their efforts to contribute to resource circulation.
We hope that this booklet will pave the way for the coexistence and shared growth of small, medium and large corporations as benchmarking data for small food corporations to improve their packaging and that this booklet will develop into an indicator representing resource circulation of food packaging.
This booklet introduces the results of continuous improvement over the years in the entire process of production, consumption, management, and regeneration of packaging materials of Korean corporations. In particular, satisfying food hygiene and safety improvements, the unique functions of food packaging, and reducing packaging is not an easy decision for corporations that have to bear the risk of food safety accidents directly related to the health of the people. Nevertheless, the food industry was able to introduce 230 resource circulation best practices after research to maintain food safety with minimum packaging.
Based on the framework of the circular economy presented by UNEP, this booklet puts special emphasis on improving the sustainability of packaging wastes in the three main stages: production, consumption, collection and recycling.
The most effective strategy to solve the issue of increasing packaging wastes is to decrease the usage of resources and to improve recyclability in the production stage through changes in product design. Accordingly, food and beverage corporations are making efforts to decrease the amount of plastic used in their products, improve recyclability and to replace fossil fuel-based plastic into their green substitutes.
For a circular economy, responsible consumption is as significant as responsible production. More food and beverage corporations are guiding sustainable consumption of their consumers. These include voluntary green campaigns on label removal and waste resource collection and green certifications that provide information on sustainability to consumers.
Collection and recycling closes the loop of resource circulation. There are diverse options for the food and beverage industry to contribute to resource circulation as the PET used in beverages are high quality wastes that can be reused in numerous ways.