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Disposable coffee cup deposit will be initiated in South Korea from 2022



In 2022 all big coffee brands in South Korea will be prescripted to charge customers a refundable deposit for using disposable coffee cups. Moreover, the new law prohibits in-store single-use utensils usage, including straws and stirrers made from plastic.

According to South Korea’s Ministry of Environment, the new rules will affect only coffee businesses with 100 or more shops. Anything smaller will be allowed not to charge their customers. 

The specific amount of money that will be charged for disposable cup usage is not known yet, but if we take for reference a voluntary initiative that ran from 2002-2008, we can expect something around 50-100 won ($0.4-0.8) deposit for each used cap. 

South Korea’s government announced that the main goal of the new law is to cut down single-use waste and improve recycling rates which dropped quite a bit recently. As data from the Ministry of Environment shows, in 2018 there are more than 2.5 billion disposable caps used in South Korea with only 5% properly recycled. For reference, in 2009 recycling rate was 37%. 

These new changes could have huge consequences for South Korea’s coffee market as a whole. Data from World Coffee Portal suggest that South Korea with 24,905 coffee shops is the biggest branded coffee market in East Asia. Even recent coronavirus-related problems and a really high outlet density of 482 per million population can't stop South Korea's coffee chain market from growing - recent data shows that the number of coffee shops increased by 8.3% in 2020