Clerks and customers are arguing about the use of disposable cups in the cafe. A clerk insists that we should use a mug inside the cafe, but the customer says he will sit down and eat for a while and asks for a drink in a disposable cup. Scenes like this one have recently been happeningrequently in numerous cafes in Korea due to the restriction policy on disposable cups that took effect in August. Consumers are not familiar with the policy, and this causes friction. The regulation of disposable cups is being strictly enforced, but this situation has created a gap from reality. To bridge this gap, I think more efforts to change the perception of people should take precedence over the firm implementation of the disposable cup regulation policy.
The ‘Disposable Cup Regulation Policy’, which took effect in August 2018, is part of the ‘Comprehensive Plan for Recycling Waste Management’ announced in May 2018. Through this policy, the government announced a plan to reduce the number of disposable cups to 4 billion by 2022 from 6.1 billion, which were the number of the cups used in 2015. If restaurants violate the law, they will face a fine of up to 2 million won. Customers, however, still want to use disposable cups. Store staffs have been advised to prohibit the use of disposable cups in the store, so when making a payment, they ask a customer if they use disposable cups. However, many customers say they will take out when they pay but then they sit down inside with their disposable cup. As a result, store owners are liable to get a fine. Because people are not fully aware of the objectives that this policy is pursuing, they still demand and expect convenient disposable cups. However, if this situation continues after August, store owners will be at risk of being fined because of customers’ unwillingness to give up using disposable cups. But this is not the only problem. To avoid using disposable cups in stores, shops must have enough mugs to replace the disposable cups. Cafes that sell hundreds of cups a day need to have that many mugs in stock to handle customers’ orders. In addition, as cleaning and maintaining the used mugs has to be accounted for, labor will increase. For employees, this means that during rush hours they not only have to take orders and make drinks, they also have to make sure there are enough clean mugs on hand. For many stores, keeping up with these demands may prove to be practically impossible.
Many people who are aware of the existence of this policy agree with the government's intention to implement the policy to protect the environment. However, it is not desirable to unilaterally blame businesses and force them to make efforts. Also, the policy is working rather quickly with the aim of implementing it rather than promoting it widely and sequentially. However, there is a gap between the system and real consumer’s concern because of the way of proceeding. In implementing a policy, the public needs to know about it, because it is the people who directly experience the implementation of the policy after all. Therefore, the government should promote the intention of implementing policies to overcome the gap in reality and improve consumer’s awareness.
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