Plastic Free July: A Funeral for Single-Use Products

Jul 5, 2019

At Korean funerals, guests are generally treated to a meal. However, nowadays guests are not served with ceramic plates, but a plethora of single-use plastic plates, bowls and cutlery. This means that in one year a single funeral hall can dispose of 1.4 million plates and 720,000 bowls. This equates to more than 200 million disposable dishes used annually at funeral services throughout the country. It is estimated that this accounts for 20% of all plastic plates used in Korea each year.

Under Korea’s Act on the Promotion of Saving and Recycling of Resources, funeral facilities are prohibited from using single-use containers, but only if they have both cooking and cleaning facilities. Therefore, those without these facilities are free to use single-use containers. This results in the use of single-use containers at more than 90% of Korean funeral halls. Most funeral halls are in fact unable to reject the disposable products provided by their parent companies. Moreover, much of the trash fails to be separated or recycled, ending up in general waste.

However, some funeral halls, such as Jeju City Bumin funeral hall, Seoul Medical Center, Suwon Yeonhwa Center, Changwon City Sangbok Park, and the Funeral Center of St. Carollo Hospital in Suncheon, have provided examples of a better culture, with the use of re-usable products.

We here demand an end to the use of single-use products at funeral halls and urge the national government, local governments, and funeral halls to take the following action.

We Urge the National Government to:

1.    Revise the Act on the Promotion of Saving and Recycling of Resources, to prohibit the use of single-use containers at all funeral halls, and implement this as soon as possible.

2. Introduce a system that prohibits the provision of food and beverages at funeral halls that do not have cooking and cleaning facilities.

We Urge Local Governments to:

1. Introduce regulations, amendments and guidelines to ban the use of single-use containers at funeral halls.

2. Foster social enterprises that produce re-usable products, and help spread there use to funeral halls.

3. Use the Food Promotion Fund to support the construction of cooking and cleaning facilities in local funeral halls.

We Urge Funeral Halls to:

1. End the use of disposable products, and fully adopt the use of re-usable containers.

2. Install cooking and cleaning facilities to allow the use of re-usable containers when serving food.

3. Stop importing single-use items provided by parent companies.

Collaborating Partners Include: Korea Zero Waste Movement Network, Korea Environment Conference, Green Seoul Citizens’ Committee, Seoul City Garbage Reduction Campaign Headquarters, Korea Federation for Environmental Movements (central office and 20 local KFEMs) : AnyangGunpoEuiwang KFEM, Busan KFEM, ChangNeyong KFEM, Dangjin KFEM, Goheung Boseong KFEM, GwangYang KFEM, Gwangju KFEM, HQ KFEM(Central Office), Jangheung KFEM , JeonBuk KFEM , Jinju KFEM, GimhaeYangsan KFEM, MasanChangwon KFEM, Mokpo KFEM, EuijeongbuYangjuDongducheon KFEM, Sacheon KFEM, Sejong KFEM, Seoul KFEM, SokchoGoseongYangyang KFEM, Suncheon KFEM, TongyeongGoje KFEM, Yeosu KFEM, Yesan Hongseon KFEM

For more information contact: Choony Kim, KFEM (FOE Korea) –