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Green products become more accessible in Korea

Posted November. 29, 2013 05:54,   


“Oh, the brush part is replaceable!” An SME in Korea developed a toothbrush with a replaceable head, so that people can replace only the brush part when it is worn. In addition, the brush part is made from degradable materials to contribute to reducing wastes. This is the first certified environmental toothbrush in Korea. However, the toothbrush is not easily accessible in the market and customers are not familiar with the product.

The Green Purchase Support Center opened this year is where customers are provided with information about unknown green products like this. The Environment Ministry and the Korea Environmental Industry & Technology Institute announced Thursday that facilities for the education of green lifestyle and promotion of associated products is now allowed to be established by central or local governments with the amendment of the 2011 Act on Encouragement of the Purchase of Green Products.

As a result, the first branch opened its doors in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province in May. About 100 green products are being displayed in the 100 square-meter store. Primary visitors include educational facilities, such as schools and kindergartens, and civic organizations. The center connects those who are willing to purchase the green products directly with their manufacturers or distributors. General customers can also buy some of the items such as tissues without florescent whitening agent and dish soap made from vegetable ingredients.

Visitors can also have hands-on experience related to green lifestyle in the Green Purchase Support Center. The Ansan branch in partnership with Shingil Middle School in the city has embarked on a green school project, in which the school’s first year students learn green lifestyle every Wednesday through various activities such as a water-saving game, green soap making and green school festival. These activities are focused on helping students get used to green lifestyle from childhood. A group of 30 college student reporters continuously run a green campaign through social networks.

The second branch was opened in Nampo-dong, Busan in June. Each branch is financed by the central and local governments with about 200 million won (200,000 U.S. dollars). The Environment Ministry plans to increase the branches to five in next year and to 12 by 2017. The expansion of the center is expected to contribute to enhancing customer’s awareness of green products and stimulating local economy.

Lee Dong-wook, a manager of the Korea Environmental Industry & Technology Institute, said that “expanding the consumption of environmentally-friendly products more effectively than regulatory policies to encourage businesses to become environmental,” adding that “the government and civic organizations should actively work together to change people’s perception (about green products).”