Gimhae-City, the Republic of Korea

2023-09-28 10:57:29

Good-bye to Plastic Flowers and Disposable Dishes! – Carbon Neutral and Happy Green City, Gimhae



· Population size: 535129

· Population Growth Rate(%): -3.36

· Surface Area (sq. km): 463.3

· Population Density (people/ 1155

· GDP Per Capita (U.S.$): 34940

· GINI Index: 0.31

· URL/Webpage of your local government and your initiative:

· Main Source of Prosperity (e.g. industry, trade, tourism, creative industry, etc.): Industry



As a carbon-neutral and plastic-free society gains power as a pressing environmental concern globally, Gimhae City is actively exploring strategies to minimize carbon emissions and combat climate change. Currently, public cemeteries are adorned with plastic artificial flowers, while funeral halls and event venues are using disposable plastic dishes. By transitioning from plastic flowers and single-use plastic tableware to eco-friendly alternatives such as fresh flowers and reusable tableware, this city has the opportunity to significantly reduce carbon emissions. This shift also brings potential economic benefits, supporting local flower farmers and creating job opportunities within our community. Notably, these initiatives represent pioneering steps in Korea. By implementing these dual initiatives, this project aims to establish an eco-friendly Gimhae and Korea that serves as a model for sustainability not only in this region but also globally.



This initiative is guided by the mayor's visionary policy for Gimhae, aiming to be a city where dreams come true. The core policy focuses on co-prosperity and balance, happiness and inclusion, innovation and growth, detailed in six action strategies. One of these strategies is 'Green Environment for Carbon Neutrality,' driving our commitment to effective environmental initiatives. The approach aligns with both the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, underscoring our global responsibility.



Excessive plastic usage contributes to numerous environmental issues, including carbon emissions during production, transportation, and waste processing. Notably, public cemeteries, funeral halls, and event venues are prominent users. In public cemeteries alone, around 2,000 tons of plastic flowers are utilized annually, resulting in 43 tons of waste and carbon emissions in Gimhae. These plastic flowers cannot be recycled and deteriorate into fine dust over time. At 14 private funeral halls, disposable tableware amounts to 24 tons, generating an additional 24 tons of carbon emissions upon incineration. With this initiative, this city can curtail plastic consumption and carbon output to make it environmentally sustainable.


It is the first municipal-level policy model in this country to solve environmental problems via public-private agreements, not legislation. This initiative aims to foster environmental awareness among citizens and expand its influence to municipal, metropolitan, and national levels.


Progress is evident, with all public cemeteries and funeral halls in this city having already ceased using plastic flowers and tableware. By 2023, the construction of a multi-use dishwashing facility will be completed, while the private sector continues to join in these agreements. This momentum drives the initiative forward toward the ultimate goal of national and global adoption.


This initiative redefines norms by eliminating plastic flowers in cemeteries and disposable dishes at funeral halls. This groundbreaking approach engages both the public and private sectors, fostering innovation through collaborative agreements rather than top-down mandates. We diligently persuaded stakeholders through multiple visits, securing their support. Innovative financing solutions emerged, driven by voluntary contributions from local banks prioritizing ESG management. Notably, Gyeongsangnam-do's metropolitan government now follows this plastic-free approach, while national legislation transformation is under consideration.


The initiative's collaborative foundation is noteworthy, diverging from the norm of governmental implementation. Initiated within the public-private sector connection, Gimhae City engaged with private park cemeteries, a flower growers' association, and private funeral halls. Though initial opposition prevailed, collective dialogue forged a novel social consensus. The resultant 'No Plastic Flowers' and 'No Disposable Dishes' initiatives yield multifaceted advantages. Flower growers witness amplified income(one million dollars per year), while job creation stems from dishwashing and delivering facilities, prioritizing lower-income family employment. This symbiotic relationship resonates across public and private domains, spanning city governance, cemeteries, farmers, residents, and the global sphere. And more and more both public and private sectors want to join this initiative voluntarily, which is innovative.


Initially challenged by limited financial backing, our endeavor persevered. Overcoming the cost disparity between plastic and fresh flowers, the Korea Flower Aid Council and Yeongnam Flower Horticultural Agricultural Cooperative Federation championed post-payment raw flower promotion and innovative alternatives like dried flowers, priced competitively with artificial counterparts. Local banks, namely BNK Kyongnam Bank and NH Bank, played pivotal roles by extending voluntary aid and contributing dry flower vending machines, aligned with their ESG principles. Notably, collaboration with the Korea District Heating Corporation, International Rotary, National Agricultural Cooperative Federation, and BNK Kyongnam Bank yielded a substantial donation of 170 million won, underpinning the acquisition and operational expenses for multi-use tableware at funeral halls.



Undoubtedly, this initiative embodies a revolutionary transformation within its sector. This radical departure from conventional practices sets it distinctly apart from evolutionary progress. The initiative's inception defied established norms, originating from a dynamic convergence of public-private collaboration—a novel approach in itself.


The main idea of the initiative is all about helping the environment by changing how things are usually done in park cemeteries and funeral halls. This kind of change is totally new and different, not just a small improvement on what's already there.


This new approach comes with some risk because it's so different. But we believe that taking this risk is worth it because the potential benefits are huge. Our initiative challenges the old ways of doing things and pushes everyone involved to think in new and more eco-friendly ways. By joining together money, teamwork, and a strong commitment to the environment, this project is leading to a big transformation.


This might be not easy, but it also brings the chance for a big reward – it's like opening a door to a new and more sustainable future for the city and country.



The initiative has already reduced over 43 tons of plastic flower waste and more than 45 tons of carbon emissions annually at four cemeteries and 48,000 tombs in Gimhae. When extended nationwide, it is projected to eliminate more than 1,557 tons of plastic waste and 1,638 tons of carbon emissions yearly. This approach, endorsed by metropolitan authorities and in the process of national expansion, has also cut down 39 tons of single-use dish waste and 41 tons of carbon emissions from five funeral halls. This local-to-national effort signifies a step toward carbon neutrality and climate change mitigation.


The project researchers gather and assess key data to evaluate the impact. Measurements are conducted by our initiative team, cemeteries, and funeral halls. We track plastic waste reduction, carbon emissions decrease, and adoption rate of multi-use tableware. These metrics guide our progress assessment and inform decision-making. Although data isn't related to demographic insights, such as age, gender, income, and disabilities, if it is required when it expands, the project can research it. This data-driven approach enables effective monitoring and adaptation to maximize positive outcomes.


This innovation initially centered on Gimhae, targeting public cemeteries and funeral halls within our city. However, its success has led to its expansion beyond the city's boundaries, drawing nationwide attention. We aspire for this initiative to not only resonate within the country but also inspire international engagement, fostering a global movement for positive environmental change.


At its inception, the initiative directly impacted 560,000 residents in Gimhae, mainly related to adults and the elderly. Presently, as it expands to Gyeongsangnam-do, it affects approximately 3,263,200 individuals. In the future, the project anticipates its reach to extend nationwide, potentially benefiting all 5 million Koreans, including children, youth, the elderly, and people with disabilities.



Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts