South Korea boasts a robust post-burial culture steeped in ceremonies held at gravesites during special occasions. As a result, the demand for memorial flowers during each Chuseok holiday is substantial. However, over time, plastic flowers have gained popularity over their fresh counterparts as the preferred choice for memorial ceremonies.
Unlike fresh flowers that quickly wither, plastic flowers offer several advantages. They are not only more cost-effective but also possess a durability that remains unaffected by weather conditions when placed at a gravesite. Consequently, plastic flowers have become a common choice for memorial displays in most of the nation’s parks and cemeteries.
Nonetheless, it’s crucial to acknowledge that plastic flowers are, in essence, plastic waste masquerading as floral tributes. Comprising synthetic fibers, plastic, and metal cores, these materials are challenging to recycle due to their composite nature.
Disposing of plastic flowers often involves burial or incineration, processes that yield carbon emissions, and fine plastic particles that contribute to environmental pollution—a significant concern. To compound matters, many plastic artificial flowers are imported from other countries, with yearly imports exceeding 2,000 tons, primarily sourced from China.
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