Use of plastic in K-pop albums jumps 14 times over six years

The use of plastic in the production of K-pop albums has increased by over 14 times in the past six years, according to a Korean politician.

Representative Woo Won-shik of South Korea’s Democratic Party of Korea, the country’s main opposition, said on Sunday (October 22) that K-pop companies used over 800tons of plastic in 2022 to produce albums, per The Korea Times.

Woo had cited documents obtained from the Ministry of Environment, and noted that the figure is more than a 14 times increase from 2017, when 55.8tons of plastic was used. The figures include the production of CDs, photo cards and wrapping vinyl.


However, The Korea Times reports that the Ministry’s figures are likely underestimating the actual amount of plastic that has been used in the production of K-pop albums.

It cited a sustainability management report announced by HYBE in July, noting that the entertainment giant alone had used 894.6tons of plastic in its production of albums in 2022.

Elsewhere, the publication also estimated that “at least 1,395 tons of plastic waste were produced from CDs alone”, based on the number of K-pop albums (74.2million) that were sold nationwide in Korea last year, assuming that each CD weighs 18 grams.

“Considering the global popularity of K-pop, entertainment companies should enhance their ESG management standards and the environment ministry should come up with countermeasures,” Rep. Woo said.

Park Jin-hui, a campaigner from Kpop4Planet, an initiative led by K-pop fans for climate accountability, said that “K-pop fans tend to bulk buy from dozens to hundreds of albums upon their release”.

They say that fans do so in order to “to boost artists’ sales and collect photo cards featuring different members to get higher chances of winning tickets for fan events”.


last year, JYP Entertainment announced plans to reduce its environmental impact through digital-only album releases.